As you know by now the President today gave an address to the nation that for all intents and purposes threw one of our closest allies, Israel, under the proverbial bus. His public call for Israel to retreat to the 1949 armistice lines, broke existing agreements that the United States had made with Israel, probably hurt the quest for an Israeli/Palestinian deal and quite possibly moved the region closer to a new Middle East war.
That 1949 armistice line was created solely because that’s Israeli and Arab forces stopped fighting at the end of the War of Independence (with some added adjustments in certain sectors). It was if the whistle blew and everyone dropped their gear. The line people call 1967 border, is really only a military line. It was never intended for the Armistice lines to mark final borders, and there is plenty of documentation to that fact.
There is not much doubt that at the end of a deal, the two parties will exist with borders somewhere near that armistice border. In fact Israel has offered specific maps of final borders along the lines of what the President said publicly today, once under the Premierships of Ehud Barak the other under Ehud Olmert (in both of those cases the Palestinian leadership rejected the offer).
The difference is that in both of those cases, The return to those"1967 borders" was the end point of negotiations, today Obama severely damaged Israel's negotiating position by making it the staring point. Obama took it upon himself to made a unilateral concession on behalf of Israel. There was no negotiation; he gave away a bargaining chip that was not his to give. Should Israel give in Obama it will actually make negotiations more difficult because Israel will have to fight harder on other issues, some of which might otherwise had been easy concessions. If Israel fights Obama on the issue, things might get a bit dicier in the region. Israel's neighbors might see it as giving attacks on the Jewish State legitimacy.
At this point it looks as if Israel is choosing to take a stand. The Prime Minister all but threw a gauntlet down (diplomatically of course).
“Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” the response began, curtly. “Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.”
“That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.”
“Among other things,” Netanyahu reminded Obama, “those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.”Republicans were quick to point out that Obama's call for a retreat to the 1949 Armistice lines was dangerous to the Jewish State.
- “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement following Mr. Obama’s sweeping speech about the fundamental changes taking place in the Middle East. “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace.”
- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty called the president’s support for a plan that would revive borders not seen since the Six-Day War in 1967 “a mistaken and dangerous demand.“The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided,” he said. “At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the highest-ranking Jewish Republican, said, “The president’s habit of drawing a moral equivalence between the actions of the Palestinians and the Israelis while assessing blame for the conflict is, in and of itself, harmful to the prospect for peace.“By keeping the burden and thus the spotlight on Israel, the President is only giving the Palestinian Authority more incentive to carry on its unhelpful game of sidestepping negotiations and failing to put an end to terrorism,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement. “Creating another Palestinian terror state on Israel’s borders is something that none of us want. The White House referred to today’s speech as a ‘Moment of Opportunity,’ and I’m disappointed that the President’s remarks missed both the moment and the opportunity.”
- Rep. Michele Bachmann said on her face book page that that Obama "has betrayed our friend and ally Israel.I believe Obama's call for 1967 borders will cause chaos, division, and greater aggression in the Middle East and put Israel at further risk,"
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "We did not hear a pledge from the President to cut off U.S. funding to a Palestinian Authority now aligned with Hamas, nor did we hear a pledge to veto the scheme to attain U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state without negotiating peace with Israel. I am also disappointed that the President failed to call on the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and instead imposed new pressure on Israel to make concessions on its borders."
- Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL): "The President's new decision to alter U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process concerns me. Palestinian calls for ‘1967 borders' should be outweighed by Israel's need for secure borders to ensure the survival of a critical U.S. ally. The President should block U.S. taxpayer assistance to Palestinian leaders who teamed up with a group his administration certified as a terrorist organization -- Hamas -- responsible for the murder of at least 26 American citizens. America has no greater ally and political supporter than the Israeli democracy."
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): "Unfortunately, the President's reference to Israel's 1967 borders marks a step back in the peace process, as the U.S. must not pre-determine the outcome of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Our focus should be in encouraging direct and meaningful negotiations between the sides, and to continue playing an important role as a security guarantor in the region."
- Rep. Allen West (R-FL): "Today's endorsement by President Barack Obama of the creation of a Hamas-led Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, signals the most egregious foreign policy decision his administration has made to date, and could be the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state. From the moment the modern day state of Israel declared statehood in 1948, to the end of the 1967 Six Day War, Jews were forbidden access to their holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, controlled by Jordan's Arab army. The pre-1967 borders endorsed by President Obama would deny millions of the world's Jews access to their holiest site and force Israel to return the strategically important Golan Heights to Syria, a known state-sponsor of terrorism. Resorting to the pre-1967 borders would mean a full withdrawal by the Israelis from the West Bank and the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Make no mistake, there has always been a Nation of Israel and Jerusalem has been and must always be recognized as its rightful capital."
Let see what we have found from the Democratic Party side:
- Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)usually a big supporter of the Jewish State, ignored Obama's unilateral declaration of the return to the "1967 borders." With his head cowardly in the sand he said,“I am glad the president has rejected any unilateral action by the UN, which has always been biased against Israel, but there can be no negotiations until Hamas, recognized as a terrorist group by the United States, renounces terror and recognizes the reality of a two-state solution,“
- Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) reaction to the President's throwing of the Jewish State was , a reaction echoed by Congressman Gary Ackerman who said and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) who added . That's right they said nothing. Harry read proclaimed that he had not yet heard the speech.
Also weighing in on the President's speech was full-time progressive activist, and part time director of the ADL, Abe Foxman who like Chuck Shumer ignored the most distasteful part of the speech.
We support the President's vision of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement with strong security provisions for Israel, and a non-militarized Palestinian state. We appreciate his direct rejection of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and his understanding that the Hamas-Fatah agreement poses major problems for Israel.This should serve as a red flag to anyone who supports the state of Israel. Remember what happened today when the Jewish State most needed the support of our public figures. The Republican party was quick to point out how Obama's speech put Israel in dangers. The Democrats abandoned the Jewish State to the whims of a President who publicly threw Israel under the bus.
As Edmond Burke said almost three-hundred years ago “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." In a time of great need for Israel, the Democratic Party did nothing. For that they should be ashamed of themselves.
Supporters of Israel should remember that when they enter the voting booth in 2012.