Obama: 'Moment may be passing' on two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

President Obama defended his administration's decision to abstain from a United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying it was necessary for preserving a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It was important for us to send a signal — a wake-up call — that this moment may be passing," Obama said at his final press conference as president on Wednesday.

The United Nations Security Council voted in December to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The U.S. could have blocked the vote, but the administration split from long-standing policy and abstained.

The decision sparked a firestorm, with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill criticizing the president's decision.


President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE also slammed the decision shortly after the U.N. vote and vowed things would be different at the international organization after his inauguration.

Trump has also said that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move widely seen as controversial and a break from decades of U.S. policy.

Jerusalem is not internationally recognized as the country's capital and the U.S. position has long been that its status should be resolved by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"The president-elect will have his own policy," Obama said on Wednesday. "The candidacy for the ambassadorship obviously has very different views than I do. That is their prerogative. That is what happens after elections. I think my views are clearer. We'll see how their approach plays itself out."