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White House Chief of Staff: We Can't 'Pretend' Netanyahu Didn't Make Palestinian State Comments

n this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough listens in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. The White House sought to narrow differences with members of Congress on Tuesday on President Barack Obama’s widely anticipated request for legislation approving the use of U.S. military force against Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. McDonough and counsel Neil Eggleston were meeting with Senate Democrats as Obama prepared to formally unveil his proposed authorization. Press secretary Josh Earnest said the proposal should be finished this week as the White House steps up negotiations with lawmakers from both parties to finalize details. "Hopefully there will not be a significant delay in Congress acting on that legislative language," Earnest said. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)\n

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough indicated Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to have a tough time walking back his comments about rejecting a Palestinian state.

“We cannot simply pretend that these comments were never made,” McDonough told the liberal Israel advocacy group J Street at its annual conference in Washington.

Netanyahu said in the final hours of last week's campaign there would be no Palestinian state while he is prime minister. Even though Netanyahu stepped away from the comments afterward, saying he wants a two-state solution but that "circumstances" need to change first, the White House has seized on them, indicating it will need to reassess whether to stand with Israel should a Palestinian state resolution come down in the United Nations.

McDonough stressed that the United States solidly advocates for a two-state solution to protect Israel’s security and the sovereignty of the Palestinians.

“The Palestinian people must have the right to live and government themselves in their own sovereign state,” McDonough said.

He added that the two-state solution would enhance Israel’s security and deliver a “knockout punch” to boycott and divestment movements from against Israel.

The chief of staff went on to urge Congress not to harm the U.S.-led nuclear negotiations with Iran. Earlier this month, 47 Republican senators signed a letter to Iranian leaders saying the next president would not be bound to any deal the Obama administration made now.

“Congress played an important role in getting Iran to the table,” McDonough said. “Now they need to not harm the negotiations.”

He further said, “We can't remove diplomacy from America's tool box. That's not how we lead the world.”

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