The Obama administration has admonished Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political party, accusing it of using anti-Arab rhetoric ahead of Israel’s election.
A spokesman said President Barack Obama still believes in Palestinian statehood – even if Mr Netanyahu no longer does.
In its first public response to Mr Netanyahu’s triumph in the election, the spokesman said the White House was “deeply concerned” about divisive language emanating from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the party had sought to marginalise Israel’s minority Arab community, an apparent reference to social media posts the Likud Party distributed that warned Israelis about the danger of high turnout by Arab voters.
“These are views the administration intends to convey directly to the Israelis,” Mr Earnest said.
And while Mr Earnest said Mr Obama would be calling Mr Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory, he acknowledged the US would have to re-evaluate the best way to bring about a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a cornerstone of US Middle East policy for years.
In a veer to the right just before the election, Mr Netanyahu reversed his former position and said he now opposes the creation of a separate Palestinian state.
“Based on those comments, the US will evaluate our position going forward,” Mr Earnest told reporters.
Secretary of state John Kerry spoke to Mr Netanyahu shortly after the election to congratulate him, Mr Earnest said, and Mr Obama was to do the same in the days ahead.
Downplaying any suggestion the president was delaying that call, Mr Earnest pointed out that after previous Israeli elections, Mr Obama had waited until the Israeli president had formally tasked the leading candidate with forming a new government. Mr Netanyahu has said he hopes to form a government quickly, within two to three weeks.