Obama’s policy is different — and terrible for Israel

Yesterday I wrote about President Obama’s Israel-Palestine proposal. I tried to be fair, indicating what I thought were the good and bad points. I thought I was finished with it, but apparently not.

Overall, it represents a change in American policy that is a change for the worse. If implemented as described, it would be a disaster for Israel.

I should have known that the usual suspects would spin it as in fact pro-Israel. I am really, really sick of hearing those words.

Let me take a random example. David A. Harris of the National Jewish Democratic Council, in an article titled “Condemning the President” that was also sent by email to its members, said this:

It’s laughable to suggest that President Obama insisted Israel return to 1967 lines, or that he said anything different from the policies of Presidents Bush and Clinton before him.

President George W. Bush similarly said that prior armistice lines should be used as a basis for talks almost six years ago today—while standing next to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Diplomatic statements are carefully calibrated, and what may seem to be small differences in wording can represent big changes in policy. Let’s look at exactly what Obama said,

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.

And here is what it means:

1. Israel will not have a border with Jordan. Thus the idea that Israel will maintain control of the Jordan Valley, considered essential for strategic reasons, is ruled out.

2. The borders will be based on 1967 lines. The position of every American government until now has followed UNSC resolution 242, that borders will be negotiated between the parties (at Oslo, Israel agreed to negotiate with the Palestinians in place of Jordan). The “1967 lines” are the 1949 armistice lines, which neither Israel nor the Arabs have ever treated as anything other than accidental.

But by saying that negotiations will be based on the lines and the Palestinians will be compensated by ‘swaps’ — land from pre-1967 Israel — the President implies that Judea and Samaria belong to the Palestinians today, and that Israel must pay for any of it that they keep.

This is a far cry from resolution 242, which recognized that the 1949-1967 lines were not “secure and recognized boundaries” and that such boundaries need to be negotiated.

3. The state of Palestine is understood to include Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the issue of Jerusalem is left for later in Obama’s proposal). Demanding that it be “contiguous” is a demand that Israel be cut in half.

Previous proposals — which were never accepted — called for some form of ‘free passage’ between Gaza and Judea/Samaria. This is a much less stringent requirement than a demand for territorial contiguity (it could theoretically be met by a bus or railway line).

Now let’s look at what President Bush said, which Harris claims was ‘similar’:

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.

My analysis:

1. The final borders, which are understood to be different from the 1949 lines, must be mutually agreed upon. That’s exactly what resolution 242 said. There is no presumption that the territories to the east are Palestinian, as there is in Mr. Obama’s formulation.

2. The “West Bank” part of Palestine must be contiguous. There is no requirement that all of Palestine, including Gaza, has to be — only “meaningful linkages” are required. Israel need not be cut in two.

Yes, you can say the statements are ‘similar’. But there are very significant differences. Harris also listed a number of Obama’s feel-good remarks, which did not represent concrete commitments.

And that’s not all. Harris did not mention the most dangerous part of the proposal, which represents a huge shift in US policy.

Until now, it’s been understood that nothing is permanent until the main final-status issues are resolved. So while more than 95% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria today is under Palestinian Authority control, it is not a sovereign state and will not be, under Oslo, until the status of Jerusalem, refugees, etc. are settled to the satisfaction of both parties. But here is the Obama proposal:

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.

This means that Israel will give up territory permanently to a sovereign Palestine before the issues of Jerusalem and refugees are agreed upon! This means that Israel will have zero leverage in subsequent negotiations over these issues, in which Palestine will of course push its maximal demands — demands which, if met, include the loss of the Jewish people’s holiest sites, and the resettlement of millions of ‘refugees’ in Israel and its conversion to an Arab-majority state.

And these claims against Israel will be pressed by a sovereign Palestine in international fora such as the UN, the International Court of Justice, etc. — exactly as Mahmoud Abbas has said would happen if he is successful in getting a unilateral declaration of Palestine via the UN in September!

There’s even more wrong with this proposal, if we look at what Obama did not say. He did not say that the US would live up to its promises in President Bush’s 2004 letter, in particular that the US would oppose resettlement of refugees in Israel.  And here is what he said about the incorporation of the racist, genocidal Hamas in the future Palestinian government:

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?  And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.

Nice sentiments, but where is the statement that the US demands that Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violent ‘resistance’, etc. before it can take part in the Palestinian government?

In fact, the reference to “com[ing] back to the table” seems to imply that Palestine will receive sovereignty before the Palestinians will be required to provide an unspecified “answer” to the question of Hamas! This, too, represents a major change of US policy.

I’ve said that the Obama Administration is the worst one for Israel since its founding in 1948. Now I think I’ve proved that.

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3 Responses to “Obama’s policy is different — and terrible for Israel”

  1. NormanF says:

    Israel’s Prime Minister today rejected Obama’s vision.

    This is not about personal chemistry or personality differences.

    The divide between Netanyahu and Obama is as theJerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon pointed out, is essentially about differing conceptions of reality.

    Such differences of views cannot sugar-coated or finessed. For Israel, its more than a question of where to draw the borders. Israel’s very existence is on the line.

    And on that no Israeli leader, present or future, will ever cede ground.

  2. MDA says:

    Your comment

    “But by saying that negotiations will be based on the lines and the Palestinians will be compensated by ‘swaps’ — land from pre-1967 Israel — the President implies that Judea and Samaria belong to the Palestinians today, and that Israel must pay for any of it that they keep.”

    Actually Obama sees the PA land as “contiguous” as in unbroken. Obama actually wants Israel in exchange for the blocks in the territories to give up land in Israel proper to make a land bridge between Jerusalem and Gaza.
    PA lands are to be “contiguous” whereas Israel can be broken up, divided, whatever.
    This would be seen as crazy and unbelievable but Ariel Sharon (justly comatose) was one of the original suggestors‘ of such a possibility.

    The Israeli government is unfortunately Secular Socialist/Communist – it has guaranteed that Communists are specifically protected in their constitution. A constitution which is nothing like the American Constitution.
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn writing about the Gulag accurately observed that when the Marxist Jews (atheists) get into political power (in Russia) they are remarkably predatory and vicious with their own people and that he was concerned this is a problem for their future.

    Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Olmert et al are mere cases in point.
    Let’s not forget Perez.
    Disturbingly Obama’s proposal actually fits with the directions that the forgoing persons were all moving towards.

    As for Netanyahu – he is really not trusted. This has to do with his unwavering support for Ehud Baraks ongoing destruction and even brutal removal of settlers in the Territories.

    Ultimately Israelis are concerned that Netanyahu was one of sixteen Sayeret Maktal commandos led by Ehud Barak during the successful hostage rescue on Sabena Flight 571 on 9 May 1972.

    That is why Netanyahu cannot remove Barak. In fact Netanyahu is just listening and obeying his Commander.
    Perhaps Netanyahu fears being accused of mutiny or worse scuttling a Noble prize if he disobeys mission orders from Ehud Barak?

    This is all starting to make sense. But why really is the mission of this small commando unit in charge of Israel to be the surrender of so much land?

    In Israel’s history Hashem has always done the most with the least. That is how Israel won in 1948, that is how Israel won in 1967, that is how Israel won in 1973. Netanyahu and Barak are not interested in winning. They are fear-full and faithless!
    They want to lose things their way. That is why they do not want to see Hashem do the most with the least, and that is why they will not call on his name.

  3. Robman says:


    You judge Bibi too harshly, in my humble opinion. Today, in front of the world, Bibi lectured Obama like a schoolchild. He was quite firm, and I expect he will live up to his duty to protect Israel.

    He is doing the best he can to play the lousy hand he has been dealt.

    Israel – like ANY small country that is threatened – needs strategic partners on the world stage. Israel – no country in her position – cannot simply tell the rest of the world to bugger off.

    As things stand now, the only significant strategic partner and ally Israel has left in the world is the U.S. The Arab/Moslem petrodollar pimp machine has managed to pry pretty much everyone else away. With the installation of their Manchurian Candidate, Obama, they now hope to pry the U.S. away. With that accomplished, they hope to strangle Israel economically/politically in the fashion of Rhodesia or Apartheid South Africa.

    With the above in mind, Bibi has been playing a shell game, trying to run the clock until Obama is gone. There is probably going to be a big explosion anyway, as Israel’s enemies may try to take advantage of the situation Israel is now in, effectively with NO allies she can count on, except maybe Canada (I somehow can’t see Canada mounting a ’73-style airlift, though).

    But a cornered Israel with apparently nothing to lose in ’67 kicked major butt. And she’ll do it again. America’s first openly pro-Palestinian president will wind up doing more objective harm to the Palestinians than any other.

    Bibi may not be perfect, but he’s holding up well under the circumstances. I think he’ll rise to the challenges ahead. He’d better!