Nationalist Israeli lawmakers were taken aback by US President Barack Obama's "new chapter in American diplomacy" outlined Thursday during his much expected Mideast policy address at the State Department.
Obama ambushed Netanyahu, who had outlined Israel's conditions for peace earlier this week, and demanded a "full and phased withdrawal" by Israel from "occupied lands" citing the "1967 border." Before his address, Obama had assured Israeli officials he would not address specifics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"President Barack Hussein Obama adopted the phased plan of Yasser Arafat," ... noting Arafat's plan was not for peace, but for the gradual destruction of Israel, piece by piece. "He is demanding [of] Netanyahu a withdrawal from all of Judea and Samaria without even ending the conflict. He left the Prime Minister only one option, which is to tell him to 'forget about it,'" [MK Danny] Danon said.
Danon also lauded Prime Minister Netanyahu's strong response to Obama's position, which included the demand that the US honor commitments made to the Jewish state in 2004 by former President George W. Bush.
"I commend the prime minister for issuing a clear response that this policy is unacceptable," Danon said.
[MK] Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said Obama's position was nothing knew – and definitively insane.
"I wonder why all the pundits were so excited about Obama saying '1967 borders' as if he invented something knew. We tend to forget these were the Clinton guidelines, that Barak negotiated with Arafat based on them. Ehud Olmert also negotiated on these terms with Abu Mazen - and they all failed," Eldad said.
"It is a wonder the American president forgot Einstein's definition of insanity ...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'"...
JERUSALEM – Israel's prime minister on Thursday gave a cool reception to President Barack Obama's Mideast policy speech, warning a withdrawal from the West Bank wold leave Israel vulnerable to attack and setting up what could be a tense meeting at the White House.
In his speech, Obama endorsed the Palestinian position on the borders of their future state, saying it should be based on Israel's lines before the 1967 Mideast war. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the fighting, and the Palestinians claim those areas for their state.
...The U.S., the international community and even past Israeli governments have endorsed a settlement based on the 1967 lines, but Obama was far more explicit than in the past. His position appeared to put him at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not accepted the concept.
Reacting to Obama's speech, Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a full withdrawal from the West Bank, saying the 1967 lines were "indefensible" and would leave major Jewish settlements outside Israel. Netanyahu rejects any pullout from east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu heads to the White House on Friday and said he would seek clarifications.
Behind the rhetoric, though, was the possibility of finding common ground. Obama said he would support agreed-upon territorial swaps between the Israel and the Palestinians, leaving the door open for Israel to retain major West Bank settlements, where the vast majority of its nearly 300,000 Jewish settlers live.
Netanyahu said he would urge Obama to endorse a 2004 American commitment, made by then President George W. Bush, to Israel. In a letter at the time, Bush said a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines was "unrealistic" and a future peace agreement would have to recognize "new realities on the ground."
Israelis have interpreted Bush's commitment as U.S. support for retaining the major settlement blocs. Earlier this week, Netanyahu said Israel would have to retain the blocs as part of any future peace agreement.
But Netanyahu also wants to keep other parts of the West Bank, including a strategic section of land along the Jordanian border that he believes is vital to Israel's security. The Palestinians oppose any Israeli presence in their future state.
Netanyahu said he would reiterate his security demands at Friday's meeting.
Netanyahu said he plans to raise other demands: Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland, guarantees that Palestinian refugees be resettled outside of Israel and condemnation of an emerging Palestinian government that is to include the anti-Israel Hamas militant group.
With peacemaking stalled for months, the Palestinians have said they will ask the United Nations to recognize their independence in September, with or without a peace deal.
In his speech, Obama rejected the U.N. push. "Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state," Obama said.
It was not immediately clear whether Obama's statement on the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations — something the Palestinians have long sought — would be sufficient to persuade the Palestinians to drop their quest for U.N. recognition...