Michael Lipin is a GTJ staff member.
A quick primer for those of you who missed the President’s speech today:
U.S. President Barack Obama has endorsed a major Palestinian demand for borders of a future Palestinian state, saying for the first time that those borders should be based on “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Mr. Obama’s declaration in a Mideast policy speech Thursday marks a shift from his administration’s earlier position.
Previously, the U.S. State Department said the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should “reconcile” the Palestinian goal of a state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with “secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
Palestinians have long demanded a state comprising the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Palestinian officials also have demanded that Israel stop all settlement construction in occupied territories, saying such activity robs them of land they want for that state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Jewish “settlement blocs” in the West Bank must be inside Israel’s borders as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also called the West Bank a part of the Jewish “homeland” in which Israel has “historic rights as well as security interests.”
Mr. Obama’s position on one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also represents a shift from the position of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
In a 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Mr. Bush said it is “unrealistic” to expect that the outcome of a peace deal will be a “full and complete return” to the 1949 armistice lines that marked the end of the first Arab-Israeli war.
Mr. Bush said any agreement should reflect “new realities on the ground,” including “already existing major Israeli population centers,” – a reference to the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank.