Israel's 1967 borders: Three reasons Obama's stance is a very big deal
In the subtle world of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Obama's step – describing the 1967 borders as something more than a 'Palestinian goal' – could signal a significant policy shift.
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What’s the problem with him saying that? That’s an approach that many experts on the region talk about. It’s been an implicit basis for past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Yet if you’d listen to Israeli leaders and their strongest US supporters, you’d think Obama had just said Hamas was a bunch of great guys.
Well, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are nothing if not complicated and subtle. And in that context, what Obama said could well be seen as a very big deal.
First, Israel could interpret those words as a shift toward the Palestinians. In the past, US officials have talked often about a Palestine based in 1967 borders – but almost always they’ve presented that as something the Palestinians want. They’ve coupled it with a nod toward Israel security concerns as a way to try to appear even-handed.
Here’s how that worked: In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the result of good-faith Middle East negotiations should be “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.”
By dropping “Palestinian goal,” Obama gave Israeli leaders a sharp poke. That is how they could see it, anyway.