The truth about the Obama/Netanyahu stand-off over the ‘67 borders

You’ve probably heard Obama’s and the left’s argument that when Obama in his May 19 speech on the Middle East spoke of the pre-1967 borders as the basis for any future Israeli/Palestinian agreement, he was only repeating the established U.S. position, and therefore Netanyahu’s vigorous protest against Obama’s speech was just manufactured rage.

This is a lie. The truth of the matter is clearly explained by Rick Richman at Commentary’s website. In reality, “an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps,” had not been the previous American position, but rather the U.S. government’s description of the Palestinians’ goal, which the U.S. had contrasted with the Israelis’ goal of “a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” What Obama did in his May 19 speech was to adopt the Palestinians’ goal as America’s position, requiring Israel to accept it, while not requiring the Palestinians to agree to the Israelis’ goal.

Richman writes:

On November 11, 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton issued a Joint Statement, following a “friendly and productive exchange of views.” Andrew Sullivan, Jeffrey Goldberg, Fareed Zakaria, and Joe Klein have asserted that the November statement is a smoking gun, proving Netanyahu manufactured a confrontation with President Obama over his May 19 Middle East speech.

At Time magazine, Klein wrote that Obama’s speech had employed the “exact formulation” from the November statement. Zakaria wrote in the Washington Post that the November statement shows “Netanyahu’s quarrel, it appears, is with himself.” In his Atlantic blog, Goldberg wrote it “fairly definitively proves that the whole contretemps over Obama’s radical new analysis of the Middle East crisis was ridiculous.” And Sullivan overtopped his Atlantic colleague, writing the statement confirms that Netanyahu is a “liar.”

The key portion of the November statement consisted of two sentences: (1) a U.S. description of the competing Palestinian and Israeli goals, and (2) a commitment about Israeli security requirements in any future agreement:

The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement. [Emphasis added]

Compare the above statement with Obama’s May 19 statement:

We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

Obama’s May 19 statement did three things. First, it made the “Palestinian goal”—quoting the November statement verbatim—the position of the United States. It endorsed a state “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” and asserted this formulation would establish “secure and recognized borders” for both Israel and the Palestinian state.

What the Palestinians mean by “the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps” is actually the 1967 lines, with insignificant changes. Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO’s Washington envoy, asked on May 22 if it meant Israel might retain “some of those large settlements,” responded:

Our position is very clear on borders. We said 1967 lines with minor modifications. We absolutely are not envisioning the land swap that the Israelis have been proposing—the five, six percent. We are talking about as little, as minor as possible of a land swap to accommodate certain interests and changes. But we are not envisioning a large land swap.

Thus the Palestinian “goal” set forth in the November statement, which Obama elevated into a U.S. position, is the 1967 lines with swaps representing “minor modifications.” It is, for practical purposes, simply the 1967 lines.

Second, Obama adopted the Palestinian goal without a requirement that the Palestinians (i) recognize a “Jewish state”; (ii) accept borders that “reflect subsequent developments” (code words for major settlement blocs); (iii) agree to borders that “meet Israeli security requirements” (code words for defensible borders); (iv) concur that Israel security requirements be “fully taken into account” in any agreement; and (v) sign an agreement that “ends the conflict.” All those conditions, set forth in the November statement as the Israeli “goal,” are critical to Israel. Obama insisted on none of them.

Third, the manner in which Obama endorsed the Palestinian goal—not consulting Netanyahu, giving him only a few hours notice, ignoring his objections, announcing the new position without waiting to meet with him the next day—was obviously intended to send a signal not simply to Israel, but to the European leaders he was scheduled to meet the following week, who would appreciate an American president endorsing the Palestinian position while overriding Israeli objections.

These guys want us to believe Obama was just repeating the November statement and Netanyahu manufactured a crisis. It’s a joke, right?

[end of Richman article]

- end of initial entry -

May 30

MBS writes:

Ben Chorin is on the mark.

It seems that some people have a hard time understanding what was so problematic about Obama’s speech. This is especially the case of Jews committed to the Democratic Party (or, more precisely, committed to a particular self-image) at all costs. In order to explain the point succinctly, it is necessary to say explicitly something that Israeli politicians generally talk their way around.

There will be no peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world. They want us dead. We engage in sham “negotiations” with them only because of the high diplomatic, economic and political price of not doing so.

In order to maintain the appearance of negotiating, we need to state positions on the central issues. There are two tactics with regard to this. One is to offer concessions that are limited enough—either territorially or functionally—to do little harm in the event that they ever need to actually be paid. This is a fool’s game because the amount we can profitably concede in the face of continuing hostility is so limited as to not even constitute the appearance of negotiating. The second tactic is to condition any concessions on corresponding Arab concessions that they are unlikely ever to pay. At the moment, requiring cessation of claims on the part of the Arabs is a sufficiently high bar, though not without risk.

What Obama did in his speech (and what Europeans have been doing for years) was to counter both tactics simultaneously. First, he demands concessions (the 1949 armistice lines as the default in the absence of agreement on swaps and no Israeli military positions in the conceded territory) that are indefensible in the absence of genuine stable peace. Second, he demands these concessions prior to cessation of claims by the Arabs (refugees and Jerusalem to be negotiated after borders).

There is a point at which the price of participating in these sham negotiations becomes higher than the price of not participating in them.

Bill A. writes;

Thank you for your excellent post quoting the Richman post at Commentary.

Richman published his post on May 29. The same point was made by Professor William Jacobson at “Legal Insurrection” on May 25.

On May 26th, “The Astute Bloggers” noted it was no surprise that Obama sided with the Palestinians:














Whoever posted this analysis first, the important fact is that Obama has decisively sided with the Palestinians. That is the policy his administration is going to follow. They are going to deny it at first, the way they denied that Obamacare was a government takeover. And the Congress will oppose Obama. But this is now his policy.

I think that Obama’s radical Marxist roots are at least as important as his early Muslim background in accounting for his adoption of the Palestinian cause.

But I also think that the underlying ideology that powers the Palestinian terrorists is not Marxism, but radical Islam. The war against the Jew in the Holy Land is a battleground of the Jihad. And one of the most important battlegrounds of the Jihad at that, since the jihadis see themselves engaged in recapturing land that they conquered for their God many centuries ago.

Thus has Obama allied himself, and made his administration serve, the interests of the Jihad. The worldwide Jihad which is directed with bloody fury against infidels everywhere, including the United States.

How often in history has the President of the United States enunciated an administration policy that was in service to America’s most implacable enemies? If, as I think, this is the first time, I think it will also be the last time, for good or ill. I pray for good.

D. Edwads writes:

I agree with this article (“The Preferred Option: Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samari”). I think Muslims should be replaced by Copts and other Arab Christians on the West Bank. Let’s make this situation clear.

Carl P. writes:

Obama is a liar. The conventional wisdom is that he is naïve and in over his head. Would that it were so. He knows full well what he is doing.

Ferg writes:

The pre Six Day War Israeli borders were not borders at all, simply the cease fire line from the 1948 war of independence and survival.

Gedaliah Braun (author of Racism, Guilt, and Self-Deceit) writes:

Thanks so much for sending this. Once again, most people can’t even begin to understand Obama because they cannot see that the man comes close to being a genuine pathological liar for whom truththe very idea of truth—means almost nothing. As just one fact that bears on this, the Zulu language—one of the major African languages—has no word for truth; and I would be very surprised if it were any different in any other African language. (Look up “truth” in any available language on Bing Translator—Romance languages, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Greek, Arabic, any that are on there—and you will get a one word equivalent; in other words, a synonym. Look up “truth” in the English/Zulu/English dictionary, compiled in the late 1950s, and you will get five separate and distinct entries; in other words, there is no equivalent word—synonym—in Zulu for “truth.”) That means, I believe, that black people (on average) have, at best, a highly diminished idea of what truth is. Blacks evolved under circumstances where they had much less need to develop the capacity for abstract thinking. Truth is abstract: you can’t see it, feel it or eat it; it can only be “seen” by the mind. . That this deficiency may apply to blacks in general is evidenced by the well-known difficulty American blacks have with mathematics, a quintessentially abstract subject. (It is a major “problem” for “educationalists.”) How can such people be expected to feel a commitment to be truthful? Answer: they can’t and they don’t.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 29, 2011 06:36 PM | Send

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