Back to 1967, Obama Tells Israel and Palestine

Posted: May 19, 2011 1:05 PM

In a long and vague speech about the Middle East Thursday, Obama said he believes Israelis and Palestinians want to look forward -- moments after saying U.S. policy is that Israel and Palestine should go back to the 1967 borders.

"I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past," Obama said, advocating for a two-state solution.

He called the "basis of those negotiations" clear, "a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel,"although he admitted that Palestine had some answering to do thanks to a recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

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

He did, however, call the United States' commitment to Israel’s security "unshakeable."

"We will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums," the president added.

He mentioned two "wrenching" and "emotional" issues that would remain--"the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees"--but he was willing to push those issues to a later date to focus first on territory and security.

The topic was part of a broader message the president gave to the Middle East and North Africa about seeking reforms:

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"Our message is simple: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States."

Of course, this leaves the question of why the United States higher ups were virtually silent during the democratic uprisings in Iran.

He also talked about how the U.S. will funnel help into Egypt -- through relieving a debt of democratic Egypt up to $1 billion and guarantee $1 billion in borrowing needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. OPIC will also launch a $2 billion facility to help with private investments. OPIC's website, though it says it's a government agency, also says it "operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers."