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What's so 'shocking' about Obama mentioning 1967 borders?

Not much. A fact check on Huckabee and Romney's outrage, and Netanyahu's mention of a 2004 US 'commitment.'

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The border in question is the 1949 armistice line, or the so-called Green Line that demarcated Israel until the Six-Day War in 1967, which ended in a crushing Israeli victory and the seizure of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights (from Syria) and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt). The Sinai has since been returned to Egypt and Israeli settlers have been evacuated from Gaza.

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The booming Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have been among the thorniest of problems for peace negotiators for decades, and that's what the swaps are about. A bigger problem still is East Jerusalem, a topic Obama avoided entirely in his speech.

Netanyahu, who sometimes users bluster as a negotiating tool, practically ordered Obama to change course yesterday. In a statement ahead of his US trip that began today, Netanyahu said a Palestinian state would not be founded "at Israel's expense" and that he "expects to hear from President Obama a reconfirmation of commitments to Israel from 2004." The Jerusalem Post characterized Netanyahu's response as "quick and bitter."

But what is the commitment from 2004? It's a letter written by President George W. Bush that ... suggests more or less the same thing that Obama said yesterday.

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion," President Bush wrote to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in April of 2004. "It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities."

Now, the language of Bush's comment may be flipped a little, in the sense that he emphasizes that the borders will be different from the 1949-67 borders rather than emphasizing that those should be the starting point, but the overall sense is the same. The real contours of the borders will be determined between the Israelis and Palestinians with "mutually agreed changes" (in Bush's formulation) or "mutually agreed land swaps" (in Obama's).


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