NEW YORK -- Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday that the United States should continue to push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the process, he encouraged officials in both the U.S. and Israel to keep out of each other's political campaigns to diffuse tensions between the two allies.
“I think leaders in both of our countries would be well advised not to get into the electoral politics of the other nation,” O’Malley said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “As close as we are, we would both be well advised to stay out of the internal politics.”
The comments from O'Malley, a potential candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, echo congressional Democratic complaints over House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on nuclear negotiations with Iran. But they also appear to be a mild rebuke of the Obama administration and its allies, which have been at odds with Netanyahu during and after his re-election campaign.
A former top aide to President Barack Obama consulted with an Israeli group that attempted to oust Netanyahu in the election. Obama and several advisers, meanwhile, have been highly critical of Netanyahu for inflammatory comments on both the Middle East peace process and Arab voters prior to his election win.
In urging both U.S. and Israeli leaders to resist involving themselves in each other's politics, O'Malley seemed to convey a belief that recent rhetoric had gone too far, something Republicans have argued with far more vigor. O'Malley's primary focus, however, when asked about U.S.-Israel policy, was on getting all parties back to a constructive dialogue on a two-state solution.
“I think the relationship between the United States and Israel is strong, will remain strong, and must be strong for our own security,” O’Malley said. “But also, we have to continue to wage peace, and in this context, waging peace means pushing for a two-state solution.”
The Obama administration, likewise, has reaffirmed hopes to see the peace process rekindled between the Israelis and Palestinians. But it has been publicly skeptical of Netanyahu's commitment to doing so.
In an interview with The Huffington Post last week, Obama said he took Netanyahu “at his word” when the Israeli prime minister said shortly before being re-elected that he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch. After the election, Netanyahu backed away from the assertion, saying he wanted a “sustainable, peaceful two-state solution." The White House, however, has essentially called that walk-back unbelievable.
Despite the increasingly frayed relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, O’Malley had a cheerier spin. He said the pursuit of a two-state solution has long been “in the best security interest” of all parties and argued that the far-reaching objectives outweigh the short-term setbacks.
“No one stays in power forever,” O’Malley said, referencing Netanyahu. “And the truth is that people the world over all want the same thing. They want to be able to raise their kids with dignity and security and the hope of a better life and a better quality of life than they’ve enjoyed.”