May 22, 2011
Obama Speech (bis): It's the Israel game
Well, I must say I misread that speech, I thought it was a somewhat banal (as I listened to it, in translation queerly enough), boring speech of no consequence. However, Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices Needed for Peace indicates in fact it was an interesting long-game gambit re the Israel-Palestine issue, wrapped up in the Arab 48 package.
Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices Needed for Peace
WASHINGTON — President Obama, speaking on Sunday to the nation’s foremost pro-Israel lobbying group, repeated his call for Palestinian statehood based on Israel’s pre-1967 borders adjusted for land swaps, issuing a challenge to the Israeli government to “make the hard choices that are necessary to protect a Jewish and democratic state for which so many generations have sacrificed.”
In his remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the president, while offering praise for the relationship with Israel, did not walk back from his speech on Thursday, which had infuriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Rather, the president took indirect aim at Mr. Netanyahu, first by repeating what the Israeli prime minister so objected to — the phrase pre-1967 borders — and then by challenging those whom he said had “misrepresented” his position.
“Let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday,” Mr. Obama said in firm tones at one point, “not what I was reported to have said.”
“I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. 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.”
The president emphasized the “mutually agreed swaps,” then went into an elaboration of what he believes that means. Mr. Netanyahu, in his critique of Mr. Obama’s remarks, had ignored the “mutually agreed swaps” part of the president’s proposal.
“Since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means,” Mr. Obama said. “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. 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.”
I have to say, he has real balls if he continues this. But doubtless backing down is worse than not now.
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The collusion between Israel and the US is great and will work in favor of Palestinians. We would have gotten shafted in any negotiations that the US “brokered.” We are probably at most years away from Palestinians telling the US that it is no longer welcome to negotiate anything on their behalf. That will be the first major step towards liberation. For whatever reason, no matter how many nobles Israelis like to point out that they have they were too stupid to realize that a 2-state solution would have screwed Palestinians yet benefited Israel greatly, their stupidity worked in our favor too.
Posted by: Atlanta Roofing at May 24, 2011 08:20 AM
Not sure if it is real balls as it was a reiteration of standing policy; the real balls would be implementing it in face of repeated confrontations from Israel. Realer balls would be walking away entirely, aid to all parties stopped but that's just my lurid fantasy world. But OTOH, so was successful or sustained popular revolutions against dictators/autocrats in the region.
A minor caveat on your use of the "Arab '48"; it might generate confusion. (Your Maghreb is showing:) While it's an apt term analogized for the 1848 cross-Europe revolts, the shortened-year-term "'48" in al-Sharq is already ultraloaded as a common referent for something else, namely 1948, the founding of Israel, the regional conflict, and the dispersion of the Palestinians.
Posted by: matthew h at May 24, 2011 10:30 AM
"Arab '48" -- also meant for MENA '48, above.
Posted by: matthew h at May 24, 2011 10:34 AM
I think "long-game" is right on the money. Now they got their position out there, framed the potential future election of less Israel-friendly governments in the region in a way that puts pressure on the Netanyahu government rather than themselves. Obama got backlash, but he crucially wasn't hurt by it. And they havent been forced to abandon the position laid out in the speech. Next step is reelection and then, like every two termer he is less constrained since he wont have to run again - then it's time for playing offense. In the meantime let's see how Bibis aggressiveness plays out in Israel.
Posted by: SherwoodAndersson at May 25, 2011 08:16 AM