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Israeli leader backtracks from opposition to Palestinian independence

WATCH ABOVE: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said recent comments by Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu walking back his support for a two-state solution “raises questions” in the mind of Obama administration policymakers.

JERUSALEM – Days after winning Israel’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be backtracking from hard-line statements that ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu says in a TV interview Thursday that he remains committed to Palestinian statehood — if conditions in the region improve. He tells MSNBC: “I haven’t changed my policy.”

READ MORE: What will Joint Arab List’s wins mean for Israeli politics?

During the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu said that he would not agree to establish a Palestinian state in the current climate — a position that drew heavy criticism from Washington. The two-state solution is a key U.S. foreign policy objective.

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Netanyahu said he believes Israel cannot yield captured land to the Palestinians because it will be taken over by Islamic extremists, but said he would support Palestinian independence if circumstances change.