Obama Says Israel Needs Some Tough Love

Published June 2, 2009

In comments that are not likely to endear President Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said that the United States must be honest and tell its “stalwart ally” the truth – that it must accept a Palestinian state.

"Part of being a good friend is being honest," Obama told National Public Radio in an interview. "And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests. And that's part of a new dialogue that I'd like to see encouraged in the region."

Obama made the comments as he prepared for his trip to the Middle East. He noted that Americans are “deeply sympathetic” to Israel’s concerns about national security, but that the status quo is "unsustainable.”  He said that it “is important for us to be clear about what we believe will lead to peace. There is not equivocation and there is not a sense that we expect only compromise on one side. It's going to have to be two-sided."

Obama, in keeping with his campaign promise to rebuild relations around the world, is scheduled to deliver a speech in Cairo to reach out to Muslims and the Arab world.

"We're not going to get countries to embrace various of our values simply by lecturing or through military means," he said. "We can stand up for human rights, stand up for democracy. But I think it's a mistake for us to somehow suggest that we're not going to deal with countries around the world in the absence of their meeting all our criteria for democracy."

Written by BET.com Staff

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