Posted by: SWL | May 25, 2011

Addendum on Obama’s Middle East Speech

A comment on my last post made me realize that, on such a complex issue as Israeli relations, I need to use more specific and explanatory language.

The exact words of President Obama that upset so many people were “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps . . .” I wrote “Jewish groups have already condemned the president’s statement that America believes a Palestinian state should be formed with Israel going back to its pre-June 1967 borders.” I stand by that. Mr. Obama (and others) want to go back to the pre-Six days War borders as a start to negotiations. Since, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Obama last Friday, that border is indefensible, it would seem to put Israel at a disadvantage to begin there.

Unfortunately I relied on multiple news reports concerning President Bush’s 2004 letter to Israel, rather than looking for the original document. That the US “promised” that we would not ask Israel to go back to the 1967 borders is not accurate. The letter to PM Ariel Sharon (approved by bipartisan consensus in Congress), said that Israel should not be expected to withdraw fully from land it occupies in the West Bank and that Israel is “entitled” to defensible borders. Not exactly the same as my comments, but clearly not asking Israel to go back to the pre-1967 borders. (The Six Days War proved that those borders were vulnerable. Although Israel was, and still is, more than able to defend itself, it should not need to.)

That letter also said the Palestinians would need to combat terrorism. The recent linking of the Palestinian “government” to Hamas – seen by most of the world as a terrorist group – shows that they are not interested in real peace.

In the days since President Obama’s speech, commentators have likened his border proposal to Mexico asking the US to return land in the western US that we obtained through war. A blogger mentioned that maybe the US should give back lands taken from the Native Americans. Indigenous Hawaiian groups would like the US to allow Hawaii become a sovereign nation. Since I do not see the US giving up any of our land, why are we asking Israel to do so?

Note:
The link in the comment to my post takes you to a quote from my post, but there are so many barbs being traded that I’m not sure why High Desert Referendum is being quoted. Going through pages of “discussion”, it appears that the posters are looking for the source of the 2004 Bush letter. With just a quick search I found the entire letter on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs site
[ http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Reference+Documents/Exchange+of+letters+Sharon-Bush+14-Apr-2004.htm ], along with a letter from PM Sharon to President Bush.

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