|Hezbollah, Baalbek, Lebanon. (Photo by yeowatzup)|
Obama criticizes Netanyahu's 'deeply divisive rhetoric' as US takes Iran and Hezbollah off terror threat list
By Victoria Richards
Obama has criticised the "divisive rhetoric" used by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the closing stages of the country's parliamentary election, shortly before he swept to victory ahead of the Zionist Union party.
Mr Netanyahu's Likud party returned 30 seats in the Knesset to the Zionist Union’s 24 - and is now likely to form the next coalition government with partners on the right and the centre.
RELATED STORY: Obama Reevaluating US Position on Israel? Don’t Bet on it!But on the eve of the polls, the Likud leader made controversial remarks about the high turnout among Israeli Arab voters, warning that they were being bussed to the polls "in droves".
Mr Obama, who has not yet called Mr Netanyahu to congratulate him following his success, according to The Guardian, condemned the incendiary remarks - saying that they sought to "marginalise Arab Israeli citizens".
The US president's response came after the Israeli PM appeared in a video posted to his Facebook page where he urged his supporters to go out and vote, saying: "The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses."
He also ruled out the creation of an independent Palestinian state and vowed to strengthen construction of settlements in occupied east Jerusalem.
“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel," he said in a pre-election interview with a website owned by his biggest backer - US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
In response, the White House said that it was now preparing to 're-evaluate' its policy on the Middle East process.