This weeks 20 Questions hosts Dan Diker, the secretary-general designate of the World Jewish Congress.
Mountain or Molehill?
Diker highlighted some of the more positive aspects of US President Barack Obama’s Thursday speech on the Middle East, including the latter’s commitment to support the wave of democratic reform in the region, both from a political and economic perspective.
Diker called the latter part of the speech, which focused on the Israeli-Arab conflict, a “watershed moment” in which the president exposed Israel to a new and very dangerous diplomatic reality. The president’s call for Israel to return to 1967 lines, Diker avers, will make it impossible for Israel to defend itself against attack.
Diker continues that successive American administrations have understood this and supported Israel’s entitlement to defensible borders. Furthermore, the UN Security Council’s unanimously approved Resolution 242 provides for Israel to have secure and recognized boundaries.
In addition, Diker asserts that by establishing 1967 lines as a basis for negotiations, the president ultimately delegitimized the issue of settlements and large population centers in Judea and Samaria.
Neglecting to take a principled stand on the Palestinian right of return, which in Diker’s words is a non starter, was another demonstration of Obama’s fundamental shift away from previous administrations.
However, Diker postulates that Obama’s intention might have been to derail PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts in getting an international endorsement for statehood in the UN come September. If this is the case, the president may have felt he had no choice but to offer the Palestinians something to value.
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