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JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, in his first American television interview since winning re-election, appeared to back away Thursday from his declaration that he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"I don't want a one-state solution," he told NBC News in an interview. "I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution."
But he cautioned that "circumstances have to change" for that to happen. He said that the Palestinian leader refuses to recognize Israel and has made a pact with Hamas calling for Israel's destruction.
"And every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces," he said. "We want that to change so we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace."
On Monday, with polls showing a tight race between Netanyahu's Likud Party and the Zionist Union of Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu had definitively ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In the NBC News interview, Netanyahu insisted that relations with the United States were strong even though he had yet to hear from President Barack Obama about his election win. He said that Washington had "no greater ally" than Israel.
Obama called Netanyahu later Thursday to extend congratulations.
Netanyahu's already strained relationship with the U.S. frayed further in recent weeks when the prime minister spoke in Congress against a nuclear deal with Iran.
Netanyahu said that while he has yet to speak with Obama, he was "sure" they would be in touch soon.
"There are so many areas where we must work together, will work together with the United States, and the president, because we have no other alternative," he said. "America has no greater ally than Israel and Israel has no greater ally than the United States."
The extended interview with Netanyahu will air on "NBC Nightly News" on Thursday evening.
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