Obama on his criticism of Israeli settlements: ‘I’m basically a liberal Jew’
While speaking at a New York City synagogue this week, former President Obama said that he is “basically a liberal Jew.”
Obama made the comment in discussing his criticisms of Israel settlements in the West Bank, and said that such an attitude is part of his friendship to Israel, according to Haaretz.
“To be a true friend of Israel it is important to be honest about it, and the politics of this country sometimes do not allow for it,” he said, referring to the U.S.
He said the West Bank settlement situation is “not sustainable” and could endanger the future of both a Palestinian state and Israel.
In his appearance at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, a Reform Jewish congregation, the former president defended his decision to abstain from a U.N. Security Council vote at the end of his term that denounced Israeli settlements, allowing the resolution to pass.
He said that vetoing the resolution would have hurt the U.S.’s “credibility on human rights.”
Obama faced backlash after abstaining from the vote, as the move was seen as a significant break from longstanding U.S. policy on Israel.
Obama also defended his administration’s support of Israel, saying it is “not a matter of dispute” that during his time in office, the U.S. gave Israel more military support than previous administrations.
Obama’s comments at Temple Emanu-El come weeks after President Trump made the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Tensions with Palestinians have sharply risen after that decision and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Pence on a recent Middle East trip in protest of the Jerusalem decision.
And Trump threatened earlier this week to cut aid money to Palestinians if they do not push forward with peace negotiations, days after that announcing the U.S. would withhold $65 million in aid to a U.N. agency that serves Palestinian refugees.