GOP comes out strong against Obama’s Israel proposals
President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States will now move to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps met with near-universal condemnation from GOP presidential contenders and leaders in Congress. Obama’s comments came just one day before he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pretty clearly didn’t ...
President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States will now move to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps met with near-universal condemnation from GOP presidential contenders and leaders in Congress. Obama’s comments came just one day before he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pretty clearly didn’t like the speech.
That denunciation has been met with disbelief by Obama’s allies. "I don’t understand where the shock comes from, to be shocked that the ‘67 lines are the starting point for negotiations is itself shocking in 2011," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, "The rest of the world, other than that one party in Israel, has come to understand that the resolution of this conflict is going to be based on the ‘67 borders with adjustments. It is only those who have a political agenda or an ideological agenda who don’t understand that this is the basis for an agreement."
Nevertheless, here is a roundup of reactions by some top GOP candidates and Congressman:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends."
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand. The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen. At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: "President Obama has betrayed Israel and made a grievous mistake by suggesting borders of Israel go back to pre-1967 borders. This is an outrage to peace, sovereignty of Israel, and a stable Middle East. The nation of Israel was attacked in 1967 from all sides with a determination to annihilate her. Israel needs more security, not less. The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, despite long standing international law to the contrary. The President needs to worry less about the borders of Israel and start securing the borders of the United States."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): "Today, the President outlined his hopes for Mideast peace — a goal that we all share — but failed to articulate a serious plan for achieving this goal. This approach undermines our special relationship with Israel and weakens our ally’s ability to defend itself. The President’s habit of drawing a moral equivalence between the actions of the Palestinians and the Israelis while assessing blame for the conflict is, in and of itself, harmful to the prospect for peace. In reality, Israel — since its creation — has always proven willing to make the sacrifices necessary for peace, while the Palestinians on numerous occasions have rejected those offers.
This conflict is not about land or Israel’s neighborhoods beyond the Green Line. Three wars were launched against Israel prior to its establishment of new borders in 1967. By keeping the burden and thus the spotlight on Israel, the President is only giving the Palestinian Authority more incentive to carry on its unhelpful game of sidestepping negotiations and failing to put an end to terrorism. Creating another Palestinian terror state on Israel’s borders is something that none of us want. The White House referred to today’s speech as a ‘Moment of Opportunity,’ and I’m disappointed that the President’s remarks missed both the moment and the opportunity."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "We did not hear a pledge from the President to cut off U.S. funding to a Palestinian Authority now aligned with Hamas, nor did we hear a pledge to veto the scheme to attain U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state without negotiating peace with Israel. I am also disappointed that the President failed to call on the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and instead imposed new pressure on Israel to make concessions on its borders."
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL): "The President’s new decision to alter U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process concerns me. Palestinian calls for ‘1967 borders’ should be outweighed by Israel’s need for secure borders to ensure the survival of a critical U.S. ally. The President should block U.S. taxpayer assistance to Palestinian leaders who teamed up with a group his administration certified as a terrorist organization — Hamas — responsible for the murder of at least 26 American citizens. America has no greater ally and political supporter than the Israeli democracy."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): "Unfortunately, the President’s reference to Israel’s 1967 borders marks a step back in the peace process, as the U.S. must not pre-determine the outcome of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Our focus should be in encouraging direct and meaningful negotiations between the sides, and to continue playing an important role as a security guarantor in the region."
Rep. Allen West (R-FL): "Today’s endorsement by President Barack Obama of the creation of a Hamas-led Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, signals the most egregious foreign policy decision his administration has made to date, and could be the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state. From the moment the modern day state of Israel declared statehood in 1948, to the end of the 1967 Six Day War, Jews were forbidden access to their holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, controlled by Jordan’s Arab army.
The pre-1967 borders endorsed by President Obama would deny millions of the world’s Jews access to their holiest site and force Israel to return the strategically important Golan Heights to Syria, a known state-sponsor of terrorism. Resorting to the pre-1967 borders would mean a full withdrawal by the Israelis from the West Bank and the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Make no mistake, there has always been a Nation of Israel and Jerusalem has been and must always be recognized as its rightful capital."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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