In recent months, Israel's struggles to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority have been marred by Palestinian decisions. Chief among these challenges is the decision by the Palestinian Authority to bring Hamas representatives into their leadership. If that did not present enough challenges, last week President Obama increased the pressure on Israel by unleashing new parameters for Israel-Palestinian negotiations based on pre-1967 borders. All supporters of Israel have to be alarmed and concerned at this new explicit position the U.S. has taken.
Following Obama’s expression that negotiations be based on pre-1967 borders, supporters of Israel from across the political spectrum have condemned the idea. Despite the caveats President Obama portends to place on these factors, this is no place to start a negotiation.
President Obama insists that the parameters of pre-1967 borders were always a starting point for prior U.S. administrations pointing to the Clinton administration. This is nonsense. Obama’s declaration last week was the first explicit statement by a U.S. President that pre-1967 borders would be the parameters of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu’s terse phone call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to Thursday’s speech should have tipped the President off that this indeed would be viewed as new ground.
Further, Israel would be foolish to accept these conditions and rightly rebuked Obama for his position. Israel would be foolish to give up the Golan Heights along the Syrian border, foolish to pull its military presence out of the West Bank, and foolish to walk into a negotiation under the unnecessary pressures and concessions President Obama chose to place on the only true democracy in the Middle East. As the Prime Minister aptly put it, the pre-1967 Israeli borders, “were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive from them.” Never again, will Israel return to these indefensible borders regardless of the unnecessary pressure President Obama chooses to place on Israel.
In early 2008, President Obama called for the U.S. to preside over a Muslim Summit including leaders of Syria and Iran, not understanding that elevating their criticism of Israel with a United States moderator would have been a dangerous development for Israel. Recently, Obama’s Secretary of State Clinton referred to Syrian President Assad as a “reformer”. In April 2011, Assad’s regime fired live ammunition on protesters. And Assad has repeatedly supported Hamas and Hezbollah in fomenting violence towards Israel. With reformers like Assad, who needs reform?