Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama: 1967 borders, please

It's quite the provocation in the minds of many, but Barack Obama has done an almost complete reversal of what he said when campaigning in 2008.

At a meeting of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, then Senator Obama said that he supported the Jerusalem Law that Israel's Knesset passed in 1980 that states that the Holy City is "complete and united" -- that is, the eastern half of the city, including the Old City and its holy sites to the monotheistic God, are part of Israel.   This is contrary to the international consensus that Jerusalem's status (both East and West) is still undetermined -- which is why most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv and the rest have theirs just outside of the city limits.

Yesterday, however, now President Obama said that it's the pre 1967 borders, with some land swaps to account for the presently illegal Israeli "settlements" (which the country presently treats as exclaves of its sovereign territory), that should be the starting point for talks.   At first glance, one wants to just say duh.   But Israel has always been a third rail issue in the States as much as Social Security is.   Although it's a developed country, Congress consistently passes an exemption for it so it qualifies for foreign aid.   And many both inside and outside Washington want nothing less than annexation of the territories accompanied by expulsion of all Palestinians.

As an ally of Israel, of course Canada should be concerned -- after all we know well that parts of Israel are less than 20 km from the Mediterranean to the Green Line, and terrorist incursions are still quite frequent.

Certainly we need to ask what position Obama truly supports -- what he did in 2008, or what he said this week.   I think he needs to prove he deserves his Nobel Prize and try to negotiate a long term and lasting solution for the region.   But he just opened up the proverbial hornet's nest.   Getting rid of Bin Laden will have been a walk in the park compared to this.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

President Obama left open "land swaps" which is going quite far enough. Consider that Israel is a state which refuses to define its borders and has expanded its territory and violently expelled those previously living there (contrary to the Geneva Conventions) while claiming, simultaneously, to be seeking peace.

Regarding the "defense-ability" of Israel, consider also that Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and is estimated to have 300 nuclear warheads. Also consider that Israel has the most advanced military in the region.

Defense should not be a problem - especially if Israel agrees to cease its continuous aggression.