Israel's Netanyahu primed for a 'collision' with Obama today
President Obama is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has sharply criticized Obama's call for a return to 1967 borders, calling them 'indefensible.'
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Netanyahu called the 1967 borders "indefensible" and argued instead for guidelines laid out in a 2004 letter from then-President George W. Bush that "did not call for a return to the 1967 lines, and that recognized that any agreement would take into account the changed realities on the ground," the Jerusalem Post reports. In other words, the more Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, the more likely that the burgeoning settlements would be annexed by Israel – without necessarily having to make any land trades.Skip to next paragraph
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Meanwhile, the official Palestinian reactions showed the tough road toward reconciliation that lies ahead for Fatah and Hamas, which recently signed a unity agreement. While Fatah made tentative comments thanking Obama for his commitment to the peace process, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the speech was like "throwing dust in the eyes" and called on Fatah to work with Hamas to confront "US-Israeli arrogance," Palestinian Maan News Agency reports.
Issandr El Amrani, who blogs at The Arabist, says Obama's points on the peace process were "predictably terrible." In the same speech in which Obama supported nonviolent protests elsewhere in the region, he rejected Palestinians efforts to gain recognition of their sovereignty at the United Nations in September and to isolate Israel with its Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS), he writes.
Here, America stands against a non-violent method. The mention of "delegitimization" of Israel not only recuperates Israeli talking points, but puts non-violent methods like BDS tacitly on the same level as violence, since he deems them just as unacceptable. The US does not have to back these methods, but it does not have to condemn them either (especially when they are adopted by part of American civil society).
Mr. Obama clearly had an almost impossibly thin tightrope to walk upon here, as any possible substantive remark he could make would alienate either Israelis and their American supporters, or the tens of millions of Arabs watching his speech in the region.