Old emptyhead finally get a few things right about the Middle East

Barry's reference to Israel's 1967 borders is of course toxic and lots of people have been jumping up and down about it but note that he mentioned it in the context of land swaps and agreement between the parties. And his insistence on recognition for Israel will be poison to the Arabs. He also seems to feel powerless in the matter, which is rare wisdom for him

In his address Thursday afternoon on U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama told an audience at the State Department that the borders of a "sovereign, nonmilitarized" Palestinian state "should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

Negotiations should focus first on territory and security, and then the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem and what to do about the rights of Palestinian refugees can be broached, Obama said.

"Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table," Obama said, noting the new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, a group foresworn to Israel's destruction.

"How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?" Obama said. "In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question."

The U.S. president did not announce a specific initiative to resume talks between the two sides.

Obama also said that the Palestinians’ plan to declare statehood at the U.N. General Assembly this September will not result in a state. “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure,” Obama said. “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”

Ultimately, the president said, making peace is up to the parties.

"No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away," he said. "But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."



  1. This may get me in trouble with people who otherwise would ordinarily agree with me, but:
    I’ll sign off on the Palestinian state (something that’s taken me a while to come around to) and I’ll sign off on the ’67 borders with some exceptions — not for large settlements of right-wing extremists, but if there are a few little bumps on the map here and there that would make Israel more militarily defensible. I would hope to see those as last-minute inclusions in the negotiating process.
    Assuming there is going to be a negotiating process, of course.

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  3. The use of the term "borders" to refer to the armistice lines following the 1967 war is incorrect and misleading. From a legal and political standpoint the arbitrarily drawn lines are meaningless. They simply mark the point at which Israeli forces stopped their advance. The so-called borders of Israel can be drawn anywhere the Israelis wish, nor does "International law" permit any other authority to determine those borders absent Israeli agreement.

    The so-called Palestinians (actually the descendants of Egyptian and Jordanian citizens) have only the standing to negotiate that the Israelis choose to give them, which is what the Oslo Accords granted them. Since the Palestinians have significantly breached the Oslo agreement, their standing to negotiate can be considered null-and-void.

    President Obama's ignorance of 'International Law' is exceeded only by his ignorance of history.


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