Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama endorses 1967 borders for Israel

WASHINGTON — Seeking to harness the seismic political change still unfolding in the Arab world, President Obama for the first time on Thursday publicly called for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would create a non-militarized Palestinian state on the basis of Israel’s borders before 1967.

“At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent that ever,” he said.

Although Mr. Obama said that “the core issues” dividing Israelis and Palestinians remained to be negotiated, including the searing questions of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, he spoke with striking frustration that efforts to support an agreement had so far failed. “The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome,” he said.
Read the rest here.

This is going to be a minor bombshell in the Middle East. It is also long overdue. The Dispensationalist crowd and Israeli Amen Choir in Washington are going to go nuts.


melxiopp said...

I was amazed by the Op-Ed in the NYTimes today on this topic. The argument for an annexation of the entire West Bank refuses to acknowledge that one people's view of what God has given is not matched by those who lived for centuries on that same land (and who see it as given to them by God). Thus, the only resolution is legal. Legally, the State of Israel was not given ancient Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Israelis may want it, but they have no legal right to it. Israelis and their supporters can't act as if two thousand years of habitation by others who call that place home simply didn't happen.

Ingemar said...

Or the Israelis could just say "Right of conquest, bitches." Canaan has been invaded and conquered and displaced so many times that the "we were here first" argument is beginning to ring hollow.

Chris Jones said...

a non-militarized Palestinian state on the basis of Israel’s borders before 1967

What, pray tell, is a "non-militarized state"? A sovereign state is precisely one which is in effective control of her land and people behind secure borders. It is a bit hard to do that without the ability to field an army if need be.

A "non-militarized" Palestine would be a client state that existed only by the sufferance of Israel, an Israel whose sufferance of Palestine would be enforced by the moral suasion of Israel's patron (viz. the United States) and the international community.

And that would be different from the status quo how?

Chris Jones said...


Right of conquest, bitches

OK, fine.

But then the conquered peoples become citizens of the conquering state, and the demographics don't bode well for the continuing existence of a distinctively Jewish state. Plus, how can you deny the right of return to their ancestral homes of Palestinians who are now citizens of your state?

The dilemma facing Israel is, and always has been, that they can have a democracy or they can have a Jewish state, but they cannot have both.

Priest David Thatcher said...

I just object to doing international public policy by fiat public pronouncement rather than by actual negotiation. You cannot solve a longstanding international crisis by mugging for the camera and attempting to be noble-sounding. I do agree that Zionism (theological or secular) cannot influence our foreign policy, but I'm not sure how making Jerusalem an international city will actually work. Just saying.

Ingemar said...

Chris Jones,

The Israelis could set up a devsirme-type system which 1). confers second class citizen status on non Jews and 2). levy extra taxes on non Jews and require a human tax.

Or genocide, pogroms, forced sterilizations etc.

Just because I personally don't like a solution (and I don't like any of what I suggested) and just because European and American liberals will whine, huff and puff over a solution doesn't mean the solution is off the table.

Plus "conquered peoples becoming citizens" is neither an eternal reality nor (if it is one) something that can impede the conqueror for long. For example, no one in Greece, Armenia or the Levant is going to bug Turkey for right of return.

rabidgandhi said...

With all respect, Fr David, I do not see how the US's actions in Palestine/Israel have ever been 'international public policy'. Most US citizens are against foreign aid (with Israel being by far the largest recepient), in favour of peace on the '67 borders and against the obstructionism of peace the US and its allies in Tel Aviv. Yet the public has never had any say in these policies as can be demonstrated by US presedential elections. No candidate from either party has ever provided anything short of full support for the IDF and its constantly encroaching occupation.

There never has been anything public or democratic about US Middle East policy, and Obama's speech today represents no substantial departure from the same line that was enunciated by Clinton, the Bushes, Reagan, Carter, etc.

Jon Marc said...

I remember reading somewhere that most Israelis would support a peace that involved returning to the '67 borders, but perhaps that's changed. Regardless, it's the least the Israelis could do given their gradual ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem and their occupation of most of what was supposed to be Palestine...

Chris Jones said...


No argument from me on your latest comment. I am not talking about solutions that I like (or dislike) any more than you are.

It's not that subject peoples necessarily or as a matter of international law become citizens of a conquering state. But that is what would be expected of Israel following annexation, and it's hard to see how she would justify anything else in terms of current international norms. Isn't that, after all, the whole point of the "settlements" -- to change the demographic realities on the ground so that when annexation occurs a state that is both Jewish and democratic will be viable?

My preferred solution, FWIW, is a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine exist side-by-side; Palestinians may live anywhere they wish in either Palestine or Israel, but remain citizens and voters of Palestine even if they live in Israel; and Israelis may live anywhere they wish either in Israel or Palestine, but remain citizens and voters of Israel even if they live in Palestine. That way Israel remains a Jewish state, but the Palestinian refugees can nevertheless return to their homes. I'm sure there is some reason it can't work, and I am damn sure it won't happen, but that is my position anyway.

melxiopp said...

Regarding the unmilitarized nature of the proposed Palestinian state, the nation of Lichtenstein has no military either. "Liechtenstein follows a policy of neutrality and is one of few countries in the world that maintains no military. The army was abolished soon after the Austro-Prussian War in which Liechtenstein fielded an army of 80 men, although they were not involved in any fighting."

Given the history of Arab aggression against the State of Israel and a public stance of Hamas and other nations against the very right of the State to exist, it is not ridiculous to expect a nation almost at your core would be radically neutral in exchange for independence and self-determination.

Other countries without a military:

Costa Rica
Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Solomon Islands
Vatican City

Other countries without a standing army, but with limited military forces:


I will admit that there is a distinct difference in size between Lichtenstein (160 km², population 35,000) and the Palestinian Territories (6,020 sq. km, population 3,761,646). However, Haiti is larger (27,750 sq. km, population 9,719,932).

It is worth noting that not all areas of the globe are governed by sovereign states. For instance, many dependencies do not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a State, often maintain a great degree of autonomy from the controlling State, and defense may be the responsibility of another country.

David said...

I remember hearing once an American politician's suggestion that Israel and Palestine be admitted as 2 separate American states, where both would have equal protection under the Constitution. You gotta love the chutzpah.

William Tighe said...

Ingemar wrote:

"The Israelis could set up a devsirme-type system which 1). confers second class citizen status on non Jews and 2). levy extra taxes on non Jews and require a human tax."

Haven't we heard of this before? Apa .. apa .. apart ... apartheid, yes, that's it. And then I remember the covert friendship between Israel and South Africa. Birds of a feather, and all that.

Igumen Gregory said...

Having read that comment by the jackass in the white house, I couldn't help think that the US should return to the borders of 1848. Thus we would not have an "illegal immigration to what in essence is American occupied Mexico.

David said...

I don't know off hand how far Russia's claims into California went, but if our borders were to be drawn pre-"Seward's Folly," would that leave Putin in charge of San Francisco?

melxiopp said...

The way in which much of U.S. land beyond was obtained is unpardonable. It never should have happened like that, just like the State of Israel shouldn't have been formed on the backs of Arab residents of Palestine for the sake of Europeans' conscience following WWII and the Holocaust. The difference is that there has not been ongoing, continuous strife destabilizing the region and the global economy over those wrongly acquired U.S. lands as there has been since the day the UN in a fit of colonialism created the State of Israel from others' land.

Anonymous said...

As to unpardonable and "Right of conquest, bitches." - If I remember what little I learnt of world history, is it not written by the victors? Was it not a sophisticated version of I want your land/women/herds and I happen to be possessed of a bigger club/army/bomb?

Perhaps Her Majesty's government will feel compelled to give the Isles back to the Picts.

As to the issue at hand, Israel has been a faithful ally of the US. And the sole democratic state in the region. The life style of Muslim states is not one I would wish on any of God's children.

Bill, tGf

Chris Jones said...


Israel has been a faithful ally of the US. And the sole democratic state in the region.

Define "ally." Then define "democratic." Then demonstrate to me that Israel qualifies as either.

It takes more than holding elections to qualify as a democracy; and there is a difference between an ally and a client state.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The life style of Muslim states is not one I would wish on any of God's children.

That statement needs some qualification. I have friends who recently got transferred to Baltimore from Dubai. They much prefer Dubai.

The way in which much of U.S. land beyond was obtained is unpardonable.

As does this one. Conquest has simply been the way one acquired title to land for most of human history. In fact, without Western conquest much of the New World would still be without title. That is, your property would be whatever you could take and hold as against the neighboring tribe.

Matushka Anna said...

"Palestinians" does not equal "Muslims". Some are Christian, and an increasingly small number given the situation.

And interestingly, the "second-class citizen" thing and extra taxes, isn't that the life that non-Muslims lead in Muslim countries?

Anonymous said...

The discussion is all useless anyway. The very publicly stated position of most of the Muslim leadership involved is that they will not be happy with anything less than the extermination/conquest of Israel in totality. If you think a move to previous borders will be any kind of a solution or move toward peace then you haven't paid attention.