President Obama has done what no other American President would dare to do – he’s publicly told Israel they should revert to their pre-1967 borders and that he supports Palestinian demands for statehood. As expected, this revelation went down like a lead balloon with Benjamin Netanyahu and he’s made it clear that this will never happen.
President Obama said “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. He went on “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.”
The President doesn’t believe in a power-sharing deal between Fatah and Hamas. “How can you negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognise your right to exist?” he said. Nor does he support a Palestinian plan to pursue statehood through the UN - “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the UN in September won’t create an independent state."
In 2002 President Bush gave a commitment to Israel - they should keep large settlement blocs as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu said “Those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines” and added “The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence”.
Needless to say the Republicans are furious. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (who is hoping to run for the party’s presidential nomination) probably sums up the Republican view when he said “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.” Some people would argue that it's about time.