White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used “cynical” and “divisive election day tactics” in this week’s election.
Earnest said Netanyahu's statement on election day warning about Arab voters turning out in "droves" marginalized voters and erodes the democratic values that Israel shares with the United States.
“That cynical election day tactic was a pretty transparent effort to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens and their right to participate in their democracy,” Earnest said.
Earnest said that part of being a vibrant democracy is “ensuring that everybody has the opportunity to participate.”
“You’ve often heard me point out that one of the things that binds our countries together so closely is our shared values and a commitment to a set of values that are deeply integrated into our country, our government and our citizens,” Earnest said. “These kinds of cynical, divisive, election day tactics stand in direct conflict to those values. That does erode at the values that are critical to the bond between our two countries.”
Netanyahu’s Likud party was victorious in Tuesday's parliamentary elections, setting Netanyahu up to serve a fourth term as Israel's prime minister, amid a frosty relationship with President Barack Obama. The two leaders disagree on U.S.-led nuclear negations with Iran, and the day before the election, Netanyahu said there could be no Palestinian state in the current climate. He seemed to backtrack from that on Thursday, saying he was committed to a two-state solution if conditions improve.
Earnest said he wouldn’t rule out another Obama-Netanyahu meeting before the term is up and said “phone call could happen as early as today.” He said Obama might bring up Netanyahu's campaign rhetoric.
Earnest said it would be "common sense to re-evaluate" United States policy based on Netanyahu's view on a two-state solution.
“Words matter,” Earnest said of Netanyahu. He said that Israel's commitment to a two-state solution has guided U.S. policy at the United Nations but said, "I don't want to leave you with the impression that any decisions have been made in that regard," referring to the U.N.