Archive for Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama: Israel’s 1967 borders reflect longstanding policy

May 23, 2011


— President Barack Obama defended his endorsement of Israel’s 1967 boundaries as the basis for a future Palestine, telling America’s pro-Israel lobby Sunday that his views reflected longstanding U.S. policy that needed to be stated clearly.

He also said the Jewish state will face growing isolation without “a credible peace process.”

Obama tried to alleviate concerns that his administration was veering in a pro-Palestinian direction, placing his Mideast policy speech Thursday in the context of Israel’s security. He told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that those border lines must be subject to negotiated land swaps and said these principles reflected U.S. thinking dating to President Bill Clinton’s mediation efforts.

“If there’s a controversy, then it’s not based in substance,” Obama said in a well-received speech. “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace.”

The event was eagerly anticipated after Obama outlined his vision for the changing Middle East at the State Department on Thursday and then clashed in a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a day later.

The speech came ahead of a weeklong trip for the president to Europe, where he’ll tend to old friends in the Western alliance and look to secure their help with the political upheaval across the Arab world and the decade-long conflict in Afghanistan.

Netanyahu said in a statement after Obama’s remarks that he supported the president’s desire to advance peace and resolved to work with him to find ways to renew the negotiations. “Peace is a vital need for us all,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader’s tone was far more reserved than last week, when he issued an impassioned rejection of the 1967 borders as “indefensible” and even appeared to publicly admonish Obama after their White House meeting.

Netanyahu was to address the pro-Israel lobby tonight and Congress on Tuesday.

Obama didn’t retreat from his remarks on what it would take to reach a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Repeating a large section of his Thursday speech, he said the result must come through negotiation, and said Israeli border security and protections from acts of terrorism must be ensured. An Israeli withdrawal from territory should be followed by Palestinians’ responsibility for security in a nonmilitarized state.

“By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said. That was before Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and a half-million Israelis settled on war-won lands.

“It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation,” the president said. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”

Obama’s emphasis on what is meant by “mutually agreed land swaps” reflected a part of the equation Netanyahu largely disregarded when he vociferously rejected the 1967 borders as a basis for peace.

Palestinians have expressed willingness to let Israel annex some of the largest settlements closest to the demarcation, as long as they are compensated with Israeli land equal in size and quality. In the last serious negotiations in 2008, the sides split over how much West Bank land Israel would keep in the trade.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

The US shouldn't adopt a "pro-Palestinian" policy. But we also should move away from the wholly and strictly pro-Israeli policy that has dominated US foreign policy for the last 50 or so years, at a cost of many $billion to US taxpayers.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

As of a couple of years ago, there were 22 "Arab" countries in the United Nations. There were 55 countries with Muslim majorities and there are many additional countries that are dependent upon Middle Eastern oil. It's not difficult to guess how those countries approach the problems associated with that region. On the other side of the ledger, there is the Unites States and it's staunch support of Israel. Our history of support for Israel within the world community is well documented.
There have been times when the U.S. has supported Israel, right or wrong. The same is certainly true in the world's support of Israel's adversaries. Are you calling for a diminished support role in terms of U.S. support of Israel only, or would you advocate that a diminished U.S. role be concurrent with a diminished role of support for the other side?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

Israel gets $3 billlion a year from the US, and access to the full arsenal of the US armament industry, which it uses to lay complete siege to the "other side." And what does the "other side" get in the way outside support? Relative to what Israel gets from the US, almost nothing. Which goes a long way to explaining why Israel, year in and year out, inflicts many times more death and destruction on its opponents than vice-versa.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

A couple of years ago, the Palestinians introduced a resolution in the U.N., condemning Israel for the killing of children. That resolution passed. Israel introduced a similar resolution that was not passed. Are we to take from that that the U.N. is nothing more than a proxy of Palestinian support? Maybe, but what does that say about previous resolutions. That they are as legitimate as the above example? The fact is that Hamas and Hezbollah receive support from Iran. The PLO received support from various sources. Saddam Hussein gave money to the families of suicide bombers. The U.S. gives money and weapons to Israel. Are you calling for a reduction in both?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

"Are we to take from that that the U.N. is nothing more than a proxy of Palestinian support?"

That "support" and $3 will get them a cup of coffee.

"The fact is that Hamas and Hezbollah receive support from Iran."

Of course they do. But it's orders of magnitude less than what Israel gets from the US, and it has to run an Israeli blockade to make it through. By contrast, the nearly unlimited armaments that Israel gets, paid for by $3 billion from US taxpayers, comes in by the boatload and on C-130 cargo planes, in daily shipments.

"Are you calling for a reduction in both?"

A complete arms embargo on both sides sounds like a good idea to me. But given the massive military advantage that Israel has enjoyed over the last several decades means that they, and their US patrons, would never go for that.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

Israel's conflict with it's neighbors has not been limited to Palestinians alone. The resources available to those countries dwarf the resources available to Israel. The populations of those countries exceed Israel's population by something like 50/1. Their armies are much larger than Israel's. The money the U.S. gives Israel helps offset the advantages that other side enjoys.

LoveThsLife 6 years, 12 months ago

How do the resources of those countries dwarf Israel?

Which of Israel's neighboring countries has as large a collection of nuclear weapons?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

It's hard to calculate the value of a resource that has never been used. Israel has an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, but since they have never been used, even during times of war, it's hard to put a value on them. I was speaking more about the numbers of troops, guns, jets, etc., in the combined Arab world compared to Israel. I was talking about the amount of money available in the Arab world compared to that in Israel. But you raise an interesting point, it's precisely the fact that Israel has resources available to itself and only itself that helps offset the advantages the other side has. Nuclear weapons, strong support for the world's super-power, help the offset.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

But the last 40 years have shown that the rest of the Arab world, especially its despotic rulers, are much too preoccupied using their military resources repressing their own populations (all too often with the aid of the US taxpayers.)

The simple fact is that the vast majority of Arabs are too interested in improving their own lot in life, as the last few months have shown, to spend much time or resources attacking Israel. It's time for Israel to give up its siege mentality, and remove its siege of the Palestinian people.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

You seem quite cavalier in your attitude that others should risk their lives on the words of people who have sworn to destroy them. You said it a couple of days ago when you suggested that Israel should have waited to be attacked by superior Egyptian forces. You"re saying it again, Israel should ignore the declarations of countries and terrorist organizations that are sworn to destroy them. Just let your guard down and hope they don't kill you because Bozo in Kansas doesn't think they will. It's easy for you thousands of miles away from the action to say these things, it's quite another when your enemy is a few feet away, and sending thousands of homemade rockets over your border. Perhaps if the Palestinians who want peace, and yes I do believe there are many who want peace, if they spent more time putting the violent factions in their place, perhaps peace could happen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

I agree that Israel is in a bit of a tough spot. Plopping a theocracy smack in the middle of a region long settled by folks of another religious tradition and ethnically cleansing them tends to do that.

But sooner or later, the US can't just go on giving the Israelis $3 billion a year to shoot Palestinian fish in a barrel just because the Israelis (and you) can't think of anything better to do.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

It's amazing how you make these broad statements that have no basis in fact. You've accused Israel of making peace with an Egyptian dictatorship when in fact they made peace with Sadat's regime. What you call a brutal dictator, the rest of the world calls a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. You start from an incorrect premise and then build upon that. Palestine as a country never existed, never. You seem to forget that the region was also populated by other people, Jews included. The ethnic cleansing you mention perfectly describes the Palestinian uprising of the 1930's when Jews were forced out of their enclaves throughout the West Bank and into other areas where they were already the majority. This precisely at a time when dual Arab and Jewish states were proposed by the British. Arabs declined. You never speak of Arab rejections of partitions, an inconvenient fact when one considers that Palestinians were offered their own country multiple times and rejected those offers.
Bozo, you have a consistent habit of disguising the truth by twisting things. You accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing to disguise the fact that it's the stated intent of the other side to do exactly that. You've called me Israeli-centric to disguise the fact that you are anti-everything Israeli. You've accused American diplomats of being Israeli agents, presumably because they have one Jewish parent (the old one drop of blood rule). You find fault with Israel when they make peace with countries and you find fault with Israel when there is war. If they deal with dictators, they are wrong, if they deal with Nobel Peace Prize winners, they are wrong. You call on them to make peace with Fatah and Hamas, one a corrupt organization, the other a terrorist organization. That's O.K. because you say it is, but surely if they did talk to them, you would find fault. You consistently hold Israel to a standard you do not hold others to. You ask questions yet consistently refuse to answer. (your right, rude though it is). Put all this together, and more and what you have is a pattern suggesting anti-Semitism.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

OK, I give. You have no ability to be objective about this situation. You're just too blinded by complete partisanship. And sadly, Israel looks to be hardening its position, so there'll be lots of dead Palestinian babies for you to cheer about.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

You call American diplomats Israeli agents. That's treason, a most vile accusation for someone to make with zero evidence. Why? Because they are Jewish. That is anti-Semitism. You complain that they make peace with brutal regimes. The brutal regime won a Nobel Peace Prize. You complain about everything Israel does or does not do. Face it Bozo, your hatred of Israel knows no bounds. You twist history. You twist facts and you twist the words of people who write here. And you cover yourself by accusing others of twisting history, twisting facts and twisting your words. You accuse others of being idealogues when that word perfectly describes you. You've made some false and vile accusations, accusations that I should have called you on immediately. However, their cumulative effect has caused me to conclude that you are what you are. You're anti-Semitic.

LoveThsLife 6 years, 12 months ago

Bozo has some really good points.

Also, Israel has a cache of biological and chemical weapons at their disposal as well. I know Egypt has developed some biological and chemical weapons, however, I'm not sure how their resources compare to Israel.

I think with the fact that Israel does have the US as and ally, a large store of nuclear weapons, both chemical and biological warfare capabilities..that they really have the advantage over any country that borders them

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

It's only an advantage if they use them. Otherwise, they are just stuff. It's like if you had a million dollars in cash, and never spent it. Never. What's it worth. Nothing. It only becomes valuable when you spend it. Having weapons of mass destruction has no value until you use them. It's clear Israel did not have nuclear weapons during the 1967 war and it is generally accepted that they did have them during the 1973 Yom Kipper war. So for about 40 years Israel has had these weapons and has not used them, even during times of war. Their value is ... nothing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

So you'd have no objection of the arms embargo against Hamas were ended, then? After all, the only advantage is if they use them.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 12 months ago

Right, if I had a reasonable belief that they would not use them, sure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

Israel has weapons. Lots of them. And they use them quite frequently, to very deadly effect.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 12 months ago

So "reaction" to violence is OK?

By that logic, given that Israel's violence against Palestinians is many time greater than vice-versa, shouldn't Palestinians be justified in reacting with violence towards Israelis?

Oh, why do I bother? You believe in one set of rules for Israelis, and another set for everyone else. We get that. But please don't be surprised when the rest of the world finally says "enough." And you won't like the result.

LoveThsLife 6 years, 12 months ago

I don't really understand this logic. In reality, Obama doesn't just need money he needs voters. Yes, the GOP hasn't done a very good job at wooing American Arab voters with much of their rhetoric.

However, American Jews are statistically more likely to be Democrat than Republican. Also, American Jews as a majority are more likely to be pro-Israel (although there is some diversity as to their approval of Israeli policy). It doesn't make much sense, from a campaign perspective, to alienate a core group of dependable voters who also contribute financially to the coffers of the DNC.

parco814 6 years, 12 months ago

As if we needed another reason not to take your posts seriously, chalk, there you go again--comparing American Jews who voted for Obama to herd animals.

I'm sure Joe Lieberman would feel just dandy about your quoting him. But he'll never know that you did--good for him. Unfortunately the rest of us do encounter your observations once in a while.

You impress yourself, no one else, with your pompous predictions and your daily tantrums about the President. Now why don't you get out from behind that computer and go build yourself an underground shelter? Or invest in a pig farm? The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!

LoveThsLife 6 years, 12 months ago

I think it's important to note that it is more beneficial for Israel to negotiate now, before Palestine goes to the UN and petitions to be recognized as a separate state. President Obama was trying to dissuade Palestinian leadership from going to the UN and to sit down and talk with Israel instead. By being so stubborn Israel hasn't done themselves any favors.

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