Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama Has A Vision

[see update & additionsal material below #]

From his speech today:

...The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. [so, going back to the dispute over the Road Map outline, first come cessation of violence and incitement and perverse education in schools and summer camps and then only afterwards, negotiations about territory - and not parallel] We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders [which means that the Arab society in Judea and Samaria still has a long way to go]...

...Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. [and the consciousness that the very legitimacy of Jewish nationalism is negated and rejected] For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation [which only came about because they refused a state in 1947 and attempted, through the fedayeen and PLO terror to kill Jews], and never living in a nation [that should be country] of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security, prosperity, and empowerment to ordinary people.

My Administration has worked with the parties and the international community for over two years to end this conflict, yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues.[wait, wasn't there a moratorium on construction that was not matched by any Arab willingness to enagage in talks and negotiate?] Palestinians have walked away from talks. [hooray for that!] The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on for decades, and sees a stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward.

I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. [no, there is no linkage]

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. [but isn't that approach indicative of an unwillingness to achieve, ever, peace] Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist. [so, will the US actively disrupt and block the efforts of the PA in this direction?]

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. [will the Congressional supervision, if initiated, of the American efforts to build a Pal. army finally help Israeli security rather than build a better terrorist group?] And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth [that is a troublesome term]: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River [actually, I think more are residing eat of the River]. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself [what does that mean?  unless the US will continue to provide the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria with advance training and access to sophisticated technology]. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people – not just a few leaders – must believe peace is possible [that is quite doubtful]. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation [yes, it can].

Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away. 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 [and Jordan is not a "Palestinian state"?]. 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.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel [and, of course, a viable Israel]. 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 [but isn't a good deall of Jerusalem on the 'other side' of the pre-67 lines?] with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states [so, no territorial compromise and no Arab 'payment' for causing the 1967 war?]. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism [but is there's peace, why would there occur a resurgence of terrorism?]; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption [that's a big, no, huge assumption] of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized [that's a condition the Arabs will not accept] state (*). The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I know that these steps alone will not resolve this conflict. Two wrenching and emotional issues remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees [no they don't remain; they must be intergral to the essence for if the Arabs know their borders, they'll continue their delaying tactics to get half of Jerusalem and fill Israel and Judea & Samaria with refugees] . But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.

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. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel – how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist. In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. He said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” And we see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate…Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow”

That is the choice that must be made – not simply in this conflict, but across the entire region – a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past, and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife...

Well, we have heard worse:


Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d said today that it was time for Israel to ''lay aside once and for all the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel'' and ''reach out to Palestinians as neighbors who deserve political rights.''

Speaking to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israeli lobby, Mr. Baker for the first time laid out a comprehensive blueprint of the Bush Administration's approach to Middle East peacemaking.

The Secretary of State's speech was striking for the unsentimental and unusually blunt tone with which he addressed the Israelis, for the carefully balanced manner in which he called on both sides to make concessions for peace and for the clear endorsement he gave Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's proposal for elections in the West Bank and Gaza as a basis for breaking the Middle East deadlock.

''For Israel, now is the time to lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel,'' Mr. Baker said. ''For Palestinians, now is the time to speak with one voice for peace.''

[ Excerpts, page A10. ] Greater Israel is a term generally used by those in Israel who want the nation's final borders to include substantially more than pre-1967 Israel. It also includes East Jerusalem,the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.



Check out EOZ.

Joshua Pundit.

Yid with Lid.

Tevi Troy.

Ben Smith.

Matthew Brodsky.

Daniel Pipes = "one line sums up Obama's mistake, where he declares that "The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel … must act boldly to advance a lasting peace." Note how he demands that Israel alone "must act boldly," code words for making concessions to enemies sworn to eliminate the Jewish state.  This is not policy; this is folly."

Charles Krauthammer: Obama speech shows he ‘has sympathies everywhere except Israel’ - it’s an issue of trust,” he continued. “Whenever Israel negotiates, there’s an asymmetry. It gives away a tangible asset — land in return for promises which are ephemeral...

Elliot Abrams:  ...other parts of the speech were less impressive, and two deserve note. First, the president simply rewrote history when it came to supporting democracy in the Middle East. He claimed to have done so from the start, with his Cairo speech. But in fact, his administration's policy was engagement--engagement with regimes, not peoples...Second, on the whole, the president's comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will lead nowhere. It is striking that he suggested no action: no meeting, no envoy, no Quartet session, no invitations to Washington. About the new Fatah-Hamas unity agreement...this is perhaps an acknowledgment by the president that negotiations are simply unrealistic right now.

From the archives of the late Shmuel Katz

From Robert Satloff:   ...the peace process principles he articulated constitute a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy. Not only did President Obama's statement make no mention of the democracy-based benchmarks injected into this process by President Bush in his June 2002 Rose Garden speech (which might have been appropriate, given the overall theme of his speech), he even included significant departures from the "Clinton Parameters" presented to the parties by the then president in December 2000:
President Obama is the first sitting president to say that the final borders should be "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."...The Obama formulation concretizes a move away from four decades of U.S. policy based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967...Regarding IDF deployment, President Obama['s] statement implies categorical American opposition to any open-ended Israeli presence inside the future Palestinian state. This differs from the Clinton Parameters, which envisioned three Israeli "facilities" inside the West Bank, with no time limit on their presence...the most surprising aspect of the president's peace process statement was that it moved substantially toward the Palestinian position just days after the Palestinian Authority decided to seek unity and reconciliation with Hamas...Also odd was the fact that the president offered no implementation mechanism to translate these ideas into real negotiations.

Caroline Glick: is important to consider what it means for America.  Quite simply, Obama's speech represents the effective renunciation of the US's right to have and to pursue national interests. Consequently, his speech imperils the real interests that the US has in the region - first and foremost, the US's interest in securing its national security.

Jennifer Rubin notes a backtracking, sort of.

Netanyahu's reaction:

Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace. 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 [i hit on that].

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 [that's socking it to 'em].

Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines [yay!] which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.

Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel.

Without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace.

Equally, the Palestinians, and not just the United States, must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people [i hit on this, too], and any peace agreement with them must end all claims against Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will make clear that the defense of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will also express his disappointment over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to embrace Hamas, a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction, as well as over Mahmoud Abbas’s recently expressed views which grossly distort history and make clear that Abbas seeks a Palestinian state in order to continue the conflict with Israel rather than end it.

(*) On demiliarization - I and II.


Anonymous said...

Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

We welcome President Obama’s compelling speech on the priorities for American policy in the Middle East. We applaud his strong outlining of the principles which motivate that policy, including supporting the universal rights of free speech, equality and religious freedom, opposing the use of force and political repression, and promoting political and economic reforms. These are a reflection of American values and promote American interests.

We further commend his strong affirmation of the importance of the deep and unshakeable U.S.-Israel relationship, and his clear articulation of the moral and strategic connections between America and Israel. 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.

The Palestinians must heed the President’s warnings about imprudent and self-defeating actions, including through campaigns to delegitimize Israel, plans to unilaterally declare statehood, and a unity agreement with a Hamas which remains committed to violence, rejection and anti-Semitism.

Anonymous said...

This is about as pro-Israel a speech as one could have expected. No going to 67 lines, it's 67 + land swaps. Nothing on refugees or Jerusalem. No talks with Fatah/Hamas. Demilitarized Palestine. No end run at the UN. Some of the usual Arabist evenhandedness but no president was going to speak in Bibi or Lieberman terms. We'll see how he responds to Bibi, but this seems like a victory for the Dennis Ross view over the Arabists. For me the starkest omission was any mention of Saudis but then it's to be expected given that they are buying his silence by keeping oil prices low to help his reelection.

Anonymous said...

If you look at a map, if 'Palestine' is contiguous, obviously Israel cannot be.

the whole notion of the '67 lines is bogus, since they're actually the 1948 armistice lines.Aside from being indefensible,( Abba Eban famously called them 'The Auschwitz Lines') Israel accepting them would be legitimizing (a) the division of Jerusalem and (b) the seizure by Jordan of legaly purchased property in places like Ariel and Gush Etzion among others, and the whole notion that seizing territory by aggressive war is OK as long as it's the Arabs doing it.

Obama is going back to Bush's agreement with Sharon re: the Road Map, the one Zero and Hillary claimed never happened - the 1967 lines with mutually agreed 'adjustments' to reflect demographic realities.

The Pals will never agree to anything less than all of Judea and Samaria plus half of Jerualem in exchange for zip, and the Israel is will never agree to divide Jerusalem, so there it stays.

What I found more interesting was Obama's endorsement of a non-militarized 'Palestine' and his pronouncement that the US essentially will not support a UN declaration of a Pal state. Of course, we might just abstain, or he could be we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Okay-a sop to Netanyahu. But how does one square a sovereign state with a state that also agrees to be demilitarized? How long will the demilitarization last-assuming such an agreement is made-before Palestine decalres that, as a state, it has a right to defend itself? Furthermore, who is to enforce the demilitarization-UNIFIL (because it has done such a good job in the past)?

Anonymous said...

the word settlements occurs only once

Anonymous said...

"B’nai B’rith concerned.. president prejudging outcome.. by calling for pre-1967 borders ..should be reserved for direct negotiations"

Anonymous said...

The point for the general audience isn't what Obama endorsed, it's the language he used. I don't think I've ever heard a president say the words "antagonism toward Israel" in a policy speech, nor have US presidents spoken of the "Palestinians suffering under occupation" by Israel.

What the more knowledgeable generalists will pick up on is that Obama took a position on one of the key points to be negotiated, meaning that the US has taken a giant step away from acting as a comparatively neutral mediator. ...said it earlier: there is a big difference between accepting an Israeli negotiating position, and announcing that the US will tolerate only that specific negotiating position.

The MSM will spin this to Obama's advantage, but Fox, Drudge, Limbaugh, Beck, etc -- and their enormous audiences -- all see this as anti-Israel partisanship. I think ... is right about laying groundwork for legitimizing the MB, but that's a second-order analytical interpretation. The words "antogonism toward Israel" and "Palestinians suffering under occupation" are what will be memorable and defining.

Fortunately, in terms of concrete policy signals, Obama has succeeded mainly in being confusing. With some unplanned luck, we may all be able to stagger toward January 20, 2013 at 1200 Eastern Standard Time without loss of life or property.

Anonymous said...

the speech was still a rejection of Geo Bush's 2004 letter to Sharon

Anonymous said...

Congressman Allen West Response to President Barack Obama's Call for a Two State Solution in Israel

(WASHINGTON) --- Congressman Allen West (FL-22) released this statement today:

"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.

In short, the Hamas-run Palestinian state envisioned by President Obama would be devastating to Israel and the world’s 13.3 million Jews. It would be a Pavlovian style reward to a declared Islamic terrorist organization, and an unacceptable policy initiative.

America should never negotiate with the Palestinian Authority- which has aligned itself with Hamas. Palestine is a region, not a people or a modern state. Based upon Roman Emperor Hadrian's declaration in 73 AD, the original Palestinian people are the Jewish people.

It's time for the American people to stand by our strongest ally, the Jewish State of Israel, and reject this foreign policy blunder of epic proportions.

While the winds of democracy may blow strong in the Middle East, history has demonstrated that gaps in leadership can lead to despotic regimes. I have questions for President Obama: 'Who will now lead in Egypt?' and 'Why should American taxpayers provide foreign aid to a nation where the next chapter in their history may be the emergence of another radical Islamic state?'

President Obama has not stood for Israel or the Jewish people and has made it clear where the United States will stand when Palestine attempts to gain recognition of statehood by the United Nations. The President should focus on the real obstacle to security- the Palestinian leadership and its ultimate goal to eliminate Israel and the Jewish people.”

Anonymous said...

Obama’s line was “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.” In other words, the 1949 armistice lines have been redefined as the “secure and recognized borders.”

That is a big change in American policy, and is rightly being labeled “pro-Palestinian.” The new policy is in sharp contrast to 242 on borders. The basis is no longer mutual agreement, but rather, Palestinian entitlement to the territory, unless the (a) Palestinians get compensated with other land and (b) agree.

Note as well that the speech contains several other significant anti-Israel moves:
- Explicitly rejects the idea of any provisional lines
- Endorses the Palestinian demand that any negotiations must begin with Israeli concessions on borders and only then move to other issues
- Explicitly rejects the idea that the Jordan Valley could be Israel’s security border (“with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt …”)- Implicitly overturns American support for another aspect of 242 – which calls for withdrawal only in the context of peace – and instead states that withdrawal to permanent borders must be at the beginning of a “transition period,” presumably to be followed by negotiations that may or may not result in peace
- Reverses American policy that there can be no negotiations with Hamas until it accepts past agreements, gives up terror and recognizes Israel, and instead endorses negotiations with Fatah-Hamas during which they will be expected to come up with a “credible answer” to the question of how to continue despite Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist.

Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney:

President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.

Anonymous said...

NYSun, Beny Avni -

Here are three immediate questions I have following President Obama’s speech at the State Department today:

1. Mr. Obama made clear that “Ultimately, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them, not by the United States, not by anybody else.” So why did he go on to do the imposing on borders?

“We believe 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,” Mr. Obama said. specifically making the 1949 armistice line as baseline, he changes the tenor of any future negotiations.

2. What does this line mean? “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.”

Assuming that Mr. Obama’s omission of Israel’s long border lines with Jordan and Egypt that exist south of the West Bank and Gaza is no accident, this locution may refer to Israel’s wish for presence on the putative Palestinian State’s borders with its Arab neighbors — and specifically the West Bank’s eastern flank, which borders Jordan...

3. Are long established Palestinian obligations under past pacts about to be changed? “The recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel — how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.”

Anonymous said...

“President Obama is a grave danger to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. He is the most hostile president to Israel ever, and this move will only cause more Arab terrorism. As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, these borders are “militarily indefensible.” Its necessary to remember what Abba Eban, when he served as Israel’s Foreign Minister said when he appeared at the United Nations following the Six Day war, in describing the fragility of Israel's 1949-1967 map as Israel's "Auschwitz" lines,”said Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, Director of RAJE (Russian American Jewish Experience).

ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “President Obama has severely harmed Israel’s interests and America’s interests. Today, we are ashamed of and frightened by America’s policy regarding Israel. President Obama is the most hostile president to Israel ever.”