Obama Shocks Israel in Middle East Speech on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 20th, 2011

The Six-Day War

In 1967, Israel was surrounded by armed forces from Egypt, Syria and Jordan (with some Iraqi assistance).  Egypt troops massed in the Sinai and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.  An act of war in Israel’s book.  Again.  Instead of waiting for the attack, the Israeli Air Force executed a surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force.  Wiped it out.  Gave Israel air superiority throughout the conflict we call the Six-Day War.  Which allowed it to repel the Arab assault.  Israel then went on the offensive.  And gained ground.  Moved the borders to more defendable positions.  Took the Golan Heights from Syria, making it harder for the Syrians to attack again.  Took the West Bank of the River Jordan (and East Jerusalem), making it harder for the Jordanians to attack again.  And took the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, making it harder for the Egyptians to attack again.

Of course, moving borders like this creates problems.  Though Israel was now more secure, there were some one million Arabs now living under Israeli occupation.  And a lot of refugees who were looking for a place to call home.  Many since the 1948 Israeli creation.  But no one wanted them.  So they lived in refugee camps just outside of Israel.  In sort of a ‘no-nation’ land.  Wanting to go home.  Where there was no longer a home for them.

Obama says Israel needs to Return to pre-1967 Borders

President Obama gave a speech on Thursday (5/19/2011).  The subject was the Middle East.  The democracy movements.  And the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.  It was the peace process comments that people are talking about today.  For he dropped a bomb on Israel.  Figuratively, of course.  He said the Israeli borders should return to what they were prior to the Six-Day War.  Which is very problematic for the Israelis.  First of all, it would make them very vulnerable to another pan-Arab attack.  And this inconvenient fact.  There are a lot of Israelis now living on that land that will be on the wrong side of the redrawn border.  That’s a bit of a problem, especially with all those refugees wanting to return home.  Israel is not happy.  And neither is much of the Arab world.  Because they wanted even more.  Such as Egypt’s UN ambassador (see Egypt says Obama speech will help Palestinians by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, posted 5/20/2011 on The Daily News Egypt).

Abdelaziz welcomed Obama’s support for the pre-1967 borders with “mutually agreed swaps” of land because it “runs in conjunction with the efforts by the Palestinian leadership to garner the most possible number of recognitions of the state of Palestine on the borders of 1967, with those swaps.”

But the Egyptian ambassador said Obama missed an opportunity to address other key issues including Israel’s continued settlement activities, water, ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the return of refugees “which is a critical issue,” and the Palestinian demand for East Jerusalem as its capital.

Yes, the return of refugees.  The “critical issue.”  In other words, they want the right of the refugees to return home.  Not to the new Palestinian state.  But to the Israeli state.  Making it pretty much a Palestinian state, too.  Thus the two-state solution becomes a single-state solution.  And the Arab world gets what it always wanted.  The removal of Israel from the map.

By the time those negotiations end, he said, the next US presidential elections would be over, which presumably would mean the White House would not face the political pressures that exist today and might look favorably on UN membership for Palestine.

Of course, being in office during the destruction of Israel could have a negative impact on anyone’s reelection chances.  What with Israel being such an important U.S. ally.  So if you’re going to throw them under the bus, best to do that after the next election.

New U.S. Policy Position is a Nonstarter for Israel

Israel is not at all pleased with the new U.S. policy position (see Netanyahu Heads to White House After Obama Shift on Palestinian Statehood posted 5/20/2011 on FOX NEWS).

In a statement released late Thursday, Netanyahu said such a withdrawal would put at risk Israel’s security. He effectively called on Obama to recant his latest demand.

“Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” the statement said. “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. … Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines.”

It would appear that the new U.S. policy position is a nonstarter for Israel.

Israel Refuses to Negotiate their Destruction

Part of the problem in trying to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace is that some of the Palestinians’ opening bargaining position is the destruction of Israel.  That would be Hamas.  Who still lobs missiles into Israel.  And who just recently moved towards a unity government with Fatah (see Obama, Netanyahu to Meet Amid Tense Backdrop posted 5/20/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

Many U.S. officials had hoped Mr. Netanyahu would use his trip to Washington to lay out new concessions he would be prepared to make as part of a peace agreement.

But hopes have faded significantly in recent weeks, primarily because of the formation of a unity government between the main Palestinian political factions, including the militant organization Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. Mr. Netanyahu has stated that he won’t return to negotiations while Hamas is part of the Palestinian side or before it renounces its use of violence against Israel.

So moving the borders back and discussing rights of refugees to return while someone on the other side of the border wants to destroy you is a problem.

An Israeli official said Mr. Netanyahu was disappointed the speech didn’t address the Palestinian demand to repatriate to Israel millions of Palestinians, most descendants of people who were driven from or fled homes in the war over the Jewish state’s 1948 creation.

“There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, Washington does not understand what we face,” the official said.

Either they don’t understand or they have great faith in the Palestinians.  And Hamas.  That they won’t use greatly enhanced positions to do what they’ve been trying to do since 1948.  Or, perhaps, this is some grand plan to win the war on terror.  By abandoning Israel.  And giving Iran the Middle East.  And the Middle East oil.  In a desperate attempt to get America’s enemies to like her.  One thing for sure, though, it’s been proving to be a bad time to be a U.S. ally in the Middle East.

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