Obama: Borders will be different from June 4, 1967 lines

As AIPAC conference opens in Washington, US president says, "Israel, Palestinians will negotiate border different than one which existed on June, 4 1967"; plan will "account for new demographic realities on the ground."

May 22, 2011 18:10
3 minute read.
Us President Barack Obama gives speech

Obama speech 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel and the Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one which existed on June, 4 1967, US President Barack Obama told the American Israel Public Affair's Committee's annual conference on Sunday. The conference kicked off in Washington with 10,000 people in attendance.

The plan "allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides," Obama explained.

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Comment: Obama’s failure to internalize Palestinian intolerance

"The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples," he continued. "Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."

"What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace," he told the conference.

"I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace.  No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction." 

"We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace: recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to all existing agreements.  And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years."

Obama's address came three days after giving one of the most important speeches about Israel yet in his two years in office. Following criticism over his plan for the future borders of a Palestinian state to be based on pre-1967 lines, Obama already changed his tone earlier Sunday. In a BBC interview, the US president said that "conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides," mirroring language used by Israeli leaders to demand that adjustments to the 1949 Armistice lines be made in order to include large settlement blocs housing hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

Jewish American and AIPAC officials have speculated in recent days that the US president might face a tough reception at the pro-Israel lobby's conference. “Obama has ample reason to worry about a poor reception when he speaks to a very pro- Israel audience at AIPAC this Sunday,” wrote Tevi Troy, former Jewish liaison in the George W. Bush White House, on his National Review Online blog.

AIPAC hopes that US President Barack Obama will use the opportunity of his speech to the pro-Israel lobby to take a more conciliatory approach toward Israel than he displayed in his Middle East speech on Thursday, former spokesman for the group Josh Block said in an interview with Army Radio on Sunday.

"The president would be wise to use the opportunity to explain fully and to clarify what he meant in his Thursday speech," Block stated, alluding to controversial comments by Obama in which he stated that a future peace agreement should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps.

Block expected Obama to speak about the US commitment to Israel and the good mutual relations between the countries.

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