Mideast Quartet supports Obama's vision for peace
The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, on Friday voiced strong support for US President Barack Obama's vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
"The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues," the group said in a statement.
"The members of the Quartet are in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," the Quartet's joint statement said.
Mr Netanyahu stands firm:
Netanyahu: 1967 lines 'indefensible'
Israel can make some concessions in peace talks, but will not retreat to the 1967 lines because they are 'indefensible', Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following a meeting with US President Barack Obama.
"Israel wants peace, I want peace," he told reporters after the meeting, but explained that he is "the leader of a persecuted people" who cannot take any chances or make mistakes regarding its security. "History will not give the Jewish people another chance," Netanyahu said.
"There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, doesn't understand what we face," an official on board the plane taking Netanyahu to Washington told reporters.
U.S. takes EU line on Israel borders
US President Barack Obama has said future Israeli-Palestinian borders should be based on lines established before the 1967 war, bringing US policy closer in line with the EU position on the conflict.
The new US position is in line with agreed EU policy, as formally stated by European foreign ministers in December. "The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. This could include agreed territorial swaps," the EU side said.
Israeli negotiators believe that a priori support for 1967 borders - also a key Palestinian demand - removes incentives for the Palestinians to negotiate on a host of issues.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a written reaction on Thursday said: "The 1967 lines are both indefensible and would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines ... The defence of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan river.
Debka has an interesting analysis:
Netanyahu is one of 12 Mid East leaders saying no to Obama
By rejecting US President Barack Obama's proposal for Israel and its troops to pull back from the West Bank to behind the indefensible 1967 lines, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lands in the company of eleven Middle East and North African rulers who spurned Washington's Middle East policy in the six months of the unfolding Arab uprising.
Barack Obama's presentation of his Middle East vision Thursday, May 19 had three immediate results:
1. Every surviving regional leader was confirmed in his determination to keep his distance from US administration policies;
2. Another nail was driven in the coffin of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process;
3. The fuel that was poured on regional tensions increased the prospects of an Israel-Palestinian or an Israeli-Arab war this year.
More detailed points follow:
The notion that Israel can achieve security through peace talks is a pipe dream because no Palestinian negotiator will think of seeking fewer concessions from Israel than the ones laid down by the US president. He will simply use the speech as a starting-point for the biggest squeeze Israel has ever faced.
Abbas, even after losing his key patron Mubarak, is still juggling several balls in the hope of pushing Israel into a corner. Netanyahu, for his part, having stayed passive in the face of the new currents blowing in from Washington and the Arab revolt, has reached crunch time with the US president without strong cards.
A falling-out between the White House and the Israeli prime minister will also box Abbas into a choice of which anti-Obama Arab camp to jump into – the group led by Saudi Arabia or the Syrian group which also includes Hamas with whom he has just signed a unity pact.
In the long run, that pact may have saddled him with undesirable options.
We are currently witnessing the entire world aligning against Israel, just as foretold by the prophet Zechariah. We are also witnessing attempts to shrink and divide Israel's land mass. And this world is making every effort possible to do this despite the fact that such changes will make Israel very vulnerable to attack.
And one more question worth repeating:
If the 1967 borders represents all that is needed to make peace, then why was Israel invaded when these borders were in place?
Just some food for thought.