Michael Oren: Obama's statement on the deterioration of democracy in Israel carries heavy price

Oren says Kulanu will emphasize democratic values, fight to uphold them.

March 22, 2015 15:04
2 minute read.
Michael Oren

Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ANNE MANDLEBAUM)

Kulanu's Michael Oren addressed US President Barack Obama's Friday interview with the Huffington Post Sunday, saying that the President's statement "about the deterioration of democracy in Israel strategically damages Israel's standing in the world."

Oren said that common democratic values lie at the core of US-Israel relations, and as such, accusing Israel of placing less emphasis on the aforementioned carries "a heavy strategic price."

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Kulanu, according to Oren, will place an emphasis on Israeli democratic values and fight to uphold them.

The former Israeli Ambassador to the US said that the United States and Israel must put their differences aside and focus on rehabilitating their relationship, and come to the understanding that each serves as a vital, strategical asset for the other.

In his interview, Obama said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election disavowal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes it "hard to find a path" toward serious negotiations to resolve the issue.

"I did indicate to him that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic," Obama said. "And I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible."

The worst crisis in US-Israeli relations in decades was worsened by Netanyahu's declaration just before Tuesday's election that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch.  Netanyahu sought on Thursday to backtrack from his comment.

Regarding another comment made by Netanyahu about Arab voters,  in which he encouraged his supporters to go to the polls because Arab voters were going en masse to cast ballots, Obama said that in his conversation with the prime minister “we indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions. “

Obama said that “although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly. And I think that that is what's best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don't believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the name of democracy in the country."

Reuters & Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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