Right-wing media have launched a torrent of attacks on President Obama for saying that "[w]e 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." In fact, Obama's policy is in line with statements made by former President George W. Bush, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and others.
Obama Calls For Two-State Solution “Based On” 1967 Borders “With Mutually Agreed Swaps”
Obama Calls For “A Viable Palestine, A Secure Israel” “Based On The 1967 Lines With Mutually Agreed Swaps.” From Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East and North Africa:
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure 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. 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. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full 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, 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 of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And 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'm aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian 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 both Israelis and Palestinians. [Remarks by Obama on the Middle East and North Africa, 5/19/11]
Obama's Statement Is In Line With Comments By Bush, Olmert, And The U.S. House Of Representatives
In 2008, Then-Israeli Prime Minister Edud Olmert Stated That Israelis Must “Return To The Core Of The Territory That Is The State of Israel Prior To 1967.” On the anniversary of the death of Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by an Orthodox Jew opposing the Oslo Accords, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated: “We must give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to the core of the territory that is the State of Israel prior to 1967, with minor corrections dictated by the reality created since then.” From Haaretz:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took advantage of yesterday's special Knesset marking the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to call for territorial withdrawals in all disputed areas and to denounce violence on the part of Jewish settlers.
“We must give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to the core of the territory that is the State of Israel prior to 1967, with minor corrections dictated by the reality created since then,” he said.
Olmert also said that, “Every government will need to tell the truth, which unfortunately will require us to tear out many parts of the homeland in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.” Addressing the settlers, he said: “You, too, will have do carry out a moral reckoning and reach a decision.” [Haaretz, 11/11/08]
In 2005, Bush Stated: “Any Final Status Agreement Must Be Reached Between The Two Parties, And Changes To The 1949 Armistice Lines Must Be Mutually Agreed To.” From Bush's statement during a May 26, 2005, press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas:
Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice Lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity on the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today; it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.
The imminent Israeli disengagement from Gaza, parts of the West Bank, presents an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a return to the roadmap. All parties have a responsibility to make this hopeful moment in the region a new and peaceful beginning. That is why I assigned General Kip Ward, who is with us today, to support your efforts, Mr. President, to reform the Palestinian security services and to coordinate the efforts of the international community to make that crucial task a success. The United States also strongly supports the mission of the Quartet's special envoy, Jim Wolfensohn, to make sure that the Gaza disengagement brings Palestinians a better life. [Press Conference with Presidents Bush and Abbas, 5/26/05]
- “1949 Armistice Line” Is Another Way Of Referring To Pre-1967 Borders. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to the pre-1967 borders between Israel and Palestine as the “1949-1967 Armistice Lines.” [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accessed 5/19/11]
In 2004, U.S. House Approved A Return To Borders That Reflect “Mutually Agreed Changes” To “The Armistice Lines Of 1949.” House Concurrent Resolution 460, sponsored by then-Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) and approved by the U.S. House in 2004, stated:
Whereas the United States is hopeful that a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be achieved;
Whereas the United States is strongly committed to the security of Israel and its well-being as a Jewish state;
Whereas Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has proposed an initiative intended to enhance the security of Israel and further the cause of peace in the Middle East;
Whereas President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Sharon have subsequently engaged in a dialogue with respect to this initiative;
Whereas President Bush, as part of that dialogue, expressed the support of the United States for Prime Minister Sharon's initiative in a letter dated April 14, 2004;
Whereas in the April 14, 2004, letter the President stated that in light of new realities on the ground in Israel, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, but realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities. [H. Con. Res. 460, 6/23/04]
Nevertheless, Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Supposedly Forcing “The Destruction Of Israel”
Limbaugh: Obama Urged Israel To “Destroy Itself” And “Submit Its People To Potential Genocide.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said of Obama's speech: “What kind of president urges a country to destroy itself and submit its people to potential genocide?” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
CNN's Dana Loesch: Obama “Sided With Terrorists.” During her KFTK radio show, CNN contributor Dana Loesch claimed that in his Middle East speech Obama “sided with terrorists” and “people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to exist.” [KFTK, The Dana Show, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Beck: Obama's Policy On Israel Ends With “The Destruction Of Israel” And “The Western Way Of Life.” Discussing Obama's speech, Beck said:
BECK: Let me tell you how this ends. It ends with the destruction of Israel. It ends with the end of the Western way of life. It is the keystone of the West. You do this, it inflames the Middle East, and I got news for you -- Bill Kristol make fun of me all you want -- a caliphate is established. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Geller: Obama's Middle East Policy Is “Obama's Final Solution.” In a May 19 post to her Atlas Shrugs blog on President Obama's Middle East speech, Pamela Geller wrote that Obama was dooming Israel to “Auschwitz borders” and “Obama's final solution.” From Atlas Shrugs:
The “Made in the USA” President proved today, yet again, how carefully he listened and committed to the Islamic Jew-hatred taught to him in his quranic classes while growing up Muslim in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. His call to return to the '67 borders, a return to Auschwitz borders, is a call to jihad. It will incite and inflame the Muslim street.
Obama's foreign policy mimics that of the suicide bomber.
The idea that Israel must take the gas pipe, be reduced to tiny size by this tiny man, while the Muslims have given nothing, negotiated nothing, but instead, waged war and consolidated power between Fatah and Hamas (whose charter calls for the annihilation of Israel), is Obama's final solution.
I pray Netanyahu tells him to kish meir en tuchas. [Atlas Shrugs, 5/19/11]
Krauthammer Claims Obama Is “Tearing Up Bush-Era Agreements.” During the May 19 edition of Special Report, Fox News' Bret Baier hosted conservative writer and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer to discuss Obama's speech on the Middle East. During the segment, Krauthammer falsely claimed that Obama is “tearing up Bush-era agreements” and “mak[ing] the biggest concession of the entire Arab-Israeli negotiations in 50 years.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Hannity: Obama Has Thrown Israel Under “A Bus Full Of Suicide Bombers.” During the May 19 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated that Obama has thrown Israel under “a bus full of suicide bombers.” He added, “I wonder if the members of the Nobel Committee over in Oslo are scratching their heads tonight wondering why one of their Peace Prize recipients is abandoning a key democratic ally.” [Fox News, Sean Hannity, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Morris: If Israel's Security “Is An Important Factor In Your Life, You Have No Business Supporting Barack Obama.” From the May 19 edition of Fox News' On the Record:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): Now let me ask a collateral issue that is of less importance than the security of any nation or of our allies or anything but the collateral issue, and that's the political impact here in the United States. You know, we have an enormous population here in this country, especially in Florida where you are -- who are -- who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Israel. What does this do to him politically?
DICK MORRIS (Fox News contributor): Well, it's a question of the values of each pro-Israeli voter, whether they're Jewish or not. If the maintenance of the security of the state of Israel is an important factor in your life, you have no business supporting Barack Obama. It's that simple. Until now, Obama has pressured Israel on settlements, pressured them into negotiations. And those have all been within the range, kind of the pro-Palestinian range, but within the range of acceptable past U.S. policy. But now, he has literally embraced the language of the Palestinians. [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 5/19/11, via Media Matters]