Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Goldberg: Obama's 1967 Lines Comes In 2 Flavors

So what did Obama mean when he spoke about those 1967 lines?

Well, if you ask Andrew Sullivan...well let Sullivan speak for himself:
A Joint Statement From Clinton And Netanyahu

From last November 11. Money quote:
The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. 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."
What a bald-faced liar Bibi is; and how pathetic that so many fell for his hissy fit yet again.
Jeffrey Goldberg thinks Andrew Sullivan is onto something and asks: So What Was All That '67 Excitement About, Anyway?:
Andrew links to a statement (same link as above) issued last November 11 from the Israeli Foreign Ministry that fairly definitively proves that the whole contretemps over Obama's radical new analysis of the Middle East crisis was ridiculous.
Well, let's see: what did Obama actually say about those 1967 lines.
Actually, it depends on which speech you are referring to.

Obama's Middle East speech: ""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"

That's it. No mention of anything but 1967 lines to start with, then some mutually agreed swaps--whatever that means. And since we are talking about "mutually agreed" land swaps, we are not talking about anything major--unless you want to argue differently, based on Abbas's past negotiating largess.

Obama to BBC: "The basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed"

That change in language reflects what Bush said in his famous 2004 letter to Sharon--the one that the Obama administration says is irrelevant and non-binding:
 In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations 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. 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.
That simply is not what Obama said the first time around.

That key phrase--clearly missing from Obama's Middle East speech, shows up not only in his BBC interview but also in Obama's AIPAC speech as well:
By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.  (Applause.)  That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.  It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.  It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.  (Applause.)  It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.
Bottom line, as opposed to Obama's original speech last Thursday, where the starting point was the 1967 lines with some land swaps (which at best imply 1 or 1 in terms of area) in the later speeches Obama refers now to recognizing "conditions on the ground have changed"  and that there is a need to include "new demographics on the ground".

And that means taking into account the settlements--and that part is not new, since the settlements all along were intended to be negotiated--not made a precondition to negotiations.

Netanyahu has stuck to this need to recognize realities on the ground since Clinton. And how do I know that? Because that is what Sullivan's quote above clearly proves:
...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."
Seems like Andrew Sullivan is the one who threw that hissy fit.

UPDATE: More historical background is provided by Glenn Kessler: Understanding Obama’s shift on Israel and the ‘1967 lines’

Hat tip: LK

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