WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Obama administration is “deeply concerned” about Likud Party rhetoric marginalizing Arab Israelis during the recent elections.
“There has been a lot of coverage in the media about some of the rhetoric that emerged yesterday that was propagated by the Likud Party to encourage turnout of their supporters that sought to, frankly, marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday in his daily briefing.
Earnest did not name Benjamin Netanyahu, but the Israeli prime minister posted a video on Tuesday, Election Day, urging followers to vote, saying “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the ballot box. The Likud Party also texted voters warning them that voting in the Arab sector was high.
“The United States and this administration is deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Earnest said.
Earnest, notably, volunteered the criticism; reporters did not raise the issue with him. He also cast the criticism against the “shared values” that U.S. and Israeli leaders have for decades said the two countries have in common.
“It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together,” he said.
“We’ve talked a lot about how our shared values are an important part of what binds our two countries together, and rhetoric that seeks to marginalize one segment of their population is deeply concerning and it is divisive,” Earnest said. “And I can tell you that these are views that the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis.”
Earnest also noted Netanyahu’s rejection in the election’s final days of a two-state solution for the foreseeable future.
“Based on those comments, the United States will evaluate our approach to the situation moving forward,” he said. He prefaced his comment by saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship remained close. “The unprecedented security co-operation between the United States and Israel, including our strong military and intelligence relationships, will continue,” he said.
Earnest also said that U.S. President Barack Obama would congratulate Netanyahu once he was charged with forming a government.