White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has said that President Barack Obama will not overlook the comments Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made in the closing days of his campaign that he had abandoned support of the two-state solution and approved of settlements in the contested territory in Jerusalem.
"We cannot simply pretend these comments were never made," McDonough said to a pro-Israeli group, J Street, which opposes some of Netanyahu's policies, Politico reported.
Netanyahu's efforts since the election to backtrack on what he meant when he said there would not be an establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch.
"The United States will never stop working for a two-state solution and a lasting peace that Israelis and Palestinians so richly deserve," he said.
He said of the settlements, "An occupation that has lasted more than 50 years must end."
But South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham seized on the comments about the settlements and slammed McDonough saying he had used the same language of terrorists, The Hill reported.
"The language used by the chief of staff of the president of the United States is exactly what Hamas uses," Graham said Monday from the Senate floor, according to The Hill.
"Today, the chief of staff of the president of the United States used language that has been reserved for terrorist organizations."
"Is your country occupying the West Bank or are you there to make sure the West Bank doesn't turn into Gaza?" Graham asked. "The chief of the staff of the president of the United States is looking at a world completely different than the one I am viewing."
Graham warned Obama is that if the United States does not act on Israel's behalf at the United Nations, "Congress will recalculate how we relate to the United Nations."
"All I can say is, when I thought it couldn't get worse, it has," Graham said, referring to McDonough's speech.
"Wake up and change your policies before you set the whole world on fire. Please watch your language. ...You're making everything worse, and now you've added fuel to the fire."
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