Glenn Kessler takes a look at US presidential statements on Israeli-PA peace from LBJ through Obama’s on Thursday, and draws this conclusion:
In the context of this history, Obama’s statement Thursday represented a major shift. He did not articulate the 1967 boundaries as a “Palestinian goal” but as U.S. policy. He also dropped any reference to “realities on the ground” — code for Israeli settlements — that both Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton had used. He further suggested that Israel’s military would need to agree to leave the West Bank.
Obama did not go all the way and try to define what his statement meant for the disputed city of Jerusalem, or attempt to address the issue of Palestinians who want to return to lands now in the state of Israel. He said those issues would need to be addressed after borders and security are settled. But, for a U.S. president, the explicit reference to the 1967 lines represented crossing the Rubicon.
That crossing of the Rubicon is adopting the Palestinians’ goal as United States policy. Obama’s statement on Thursday did that; the question is why? It is a given that Hamas only wants “peace” with Israel in the context of Israel’s end. Their charter calls for Israel’s destruction. It is also a given that Israel has the right to exist. These are mutually exclusive goals. Redrawing lines on a map doesn’t end the conflict, but may empower one side or the other. Adopting the Palestinian position as US policy rewards terrorism, despite this sentence in Obama’s State Department speech:
“Through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in six years.”
It seems to me that the terrorists have accomplished quite a lot, in just two years. And they stand to accomplish a great deal more shortly.
Update: Also check out Ron Radosh’s reaction to Obama’s AIPAC speech, in which the president tried walking his Thursday comments back a bit. And read Melanie Phillips on the Hamas/Fatah/al Qaeda axis.