More Thoughts On President Obama’s Speech Calling For A Palestinian State On The “1967 Borders” (with swaps)
May 20, 2011

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States, yesterday strongly condemned President Obama’s Mideast speech promoting and supporting the establishment of a Hamas/Fatah/Iran terrorist state on the indefensible 1949 armistice lines (often inaccurately described as the 1967 borders). The ZOA believes that President’s Obama’s call for the establishment of such a Palestinian state under existing conditions and particularly in light of the Fatah/Hamas unity government agreement, utterly compromises his stated commitment to Israel’s security and points to either extreme hostility to Israel or naivety about the Palestinians.


Furthering reflecting on this deeply flawed speech, the ZOA has pointed out that President Obama’s speech represents a negation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, which called for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the course of self-defense but only in the context of negotiation and agreement with the Arab belligerents. Now, with his call for a return to the 1949 armistice lines (with mutually agreed upon territory swaps), President Obama has discarded the legal, internationally-accepted principle governing Arab-Israeli negotiations and substituted his own vision of a virtually complete Israel withdrawal. This wrongly, unnecessarily and dangerously undercuts Israel’s legitimate position in any future negotiation.


It also shows that President Obama has adopted the Palestinian stance, adhering closely to the stated Palestinian position of total Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines. Even President Clinton, in outlining his peace parameters in 2000, did not refer to the 1949 armistice lines as a necessary basis for drawing up border. Here, President Obama goes well beyond Resolution 242 with his implication that Israel is not rightfully anywhere beyond the 1949 armistice lines but that its continuing presence in some very small areas beyond these lines will be tolerated only if Israel swaps portions of its own sovereign territory in compensation.


President Obama’s clear tilt to the Palestinians at a time that the terror-promoting PA has now become a PA/Fatah/Hamas regime is a stunning error that harms the U.S. and Israel by boosting an unreconstructed terror regime and its further radicalization via its incorporation of Hamas, a listed terrorist group in both the U.S. and E.U. and whose leaders have called for the mass murder of Americans, the destruction of America, expressed support for Al Qaeda and mourned the killing by U.S. forces of leading Al-Qaeda figures like Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The President’s tilt towards the Palestinians is alarming in itself, not to mention at a time of increasing PA radicalization. In this context, it is deeply troubling that President Obama did not even refer to his predecessor’s June 2002 democracy benchmarks for the PA, but has rather ignored them in favor of further talks and concessions to what is now an even more extreme, terror-supporting regime.


President Obama’s words are also disingenuous for, in the same speech, he emphasized that he was committed to Israel’s security and did not come to impose a solution, yet he then proceeded to lay down in firm detail a plan which adopted the Palestinian position ahead of any negotiations. Not only that, but in speaking of the need for near-total Israeli withdrawal, President Obama referred to the “full and phased” Israeli withdrawal. President Obama implies American opposition to any open-ended Israeli presence inside the future Palestinian state. For example, it takes no account of the vital security needs of Israel in the Jordan Valley, quite apart from the issue of the thriving Jewish communities located there. This differs from the Clinton Parameters, which envisioned three Israeli “facilities” inside the West Bank, with no time limit on their presence. For having rejected peace with Israel in 2000 and commenced a decade-long terrorist war, the PA has now been rewarded by President Obama with further envisaged Israeli concessions beyond that already the highly concessionary policy outlined by President Clinton.


To maintain his position advocating virtually complete Israeli withdrawal to the highly perilous 1949 armistice lines, President Obama has also simply ignored the letter of then-President George W. Bush 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in which President Bush supported the view that the setting of future borders should reflect the realities on the ground and that large Israeli townships in Judea and Samaria should come within the new borders of Israel when those borders come to be negotiated.


In contrast, President Obama – and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, as senator from New York, was one of 95 senators to endorse President Bush’s letter at the time – ignores his predecessor’s official letter and has outlined a plan which would leave even the largest Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria within a future Palestinian state. As Palestinian leaders like Mahmoud Abbas, Salaam Fayyad and other senior PA officials have made clear in recent years that no Jews will be permitted to reside inside a future Palestinian state, it is clear that President Obama’s call for a contiguous Palestinian state throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza envisions a Jew-free Palestinian state. This becomes even clearer when one considers that he has previously said on more than one occasion that Jewish “settlements must stop.” It is also clear from the fact that, in outlining in this speech his “expectations” in peace-making that had not as yet been met, the first thing President Obama referred to was, not ongoing Palestinian terror attacks, not the Fatah/Hamas unity agreement, not the continuing incitement to hatred and murder against Israel and Jews in the PA media, mosques, schools and youth camps that render any prospect of genuine peace impossible, but “settlement-building.”


In his speech, President Obama did note that “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent [Palestinian] state.” Remarkably, however, he did not take the opportunity to back up that correct observation with a meaningful policy statement to the effect that the U.S. would veto any such resolution if it came before the U.N. Security Council. Such a statement could have had a dramatic impact and induced second thoughts among the Arab states which are seeking to introduce just such a resolution in the UN during its September session.


President Obama failed to repeat earlier U.S. statements to the effect that that the Palestinians will never see their so-called ‘right of return’ implemented through a return of Palestinian refugees of the 1948-9 war and their millions of descendants to Israel. This will raise Palestinian expectations and demands, not tamp them down.


Lastly, in this detailed speech looking at the whole Middle East, President Obama told us exactly nothing regarding what he intends to do about the transcendent threat to the U.S. and Israel emanating from the region – Iran’s continuing, unhindered drive towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capacity.


Once again, the ZOA urges friends of Israel and enemies of Islamist terrorism to contact your Members of Congress to fight against Obama’s anti-Israel policy.

Center for Law & Justice
We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.