President Obama has call for a two-state solution to Middle East peace between Israel and a Palestinian homeland. In doing so, Mr. Obama has called for Israel pre-1967 borders which would shrink Israel dramatically. The announcement come before a meeting between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. From the AP via Yahoo News:
President Barack Obama is endorsing the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel. Israel says the borders of a Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.
In a speech outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama on Thursday sided with the Palestinians’ opening position a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to referring to the 1967 borders.
Reaction was swift to the announcement by the President was not received well by Israel. From The Jerusalem Post:
A day before their scheduled meeting in Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama staked out dramatically conflicting positions Thursday as to the path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu issued a quick, bitter response on Thursday night to Obama’s landmark Middle East speech, saying that the establishment of a Palestinian state could not come “at Israel’s expense.”
“The Palestinians, and not only the US, must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” he said.
Obama, in his address earlier in the day on the changes sweeping the Middle East, called for a demilitarized Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps.While thanking Obama for his commitment to peace, Netanyahu said he “expects to hear from President Obama a reconfirmation of commitments to Israel from 2004 that received wide support in both houses of Congress.” This was a reference to a letter from president George W. Bush to prime minister Ariel Sharon that did not call for a return to the 1967 lines, and that recognized that any agreement would take into account the changed realities on the ground – a line interpreted by Israel to mean a recognition that it would hold on to the large settlement blocs.
Meanwhile Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. has called for an Emergency Meeting of the Palenstine Authority leadership on Pres. Obama statement calling for Israel to return the Pre-1967 borders. Abbas will also consult with other Arabic nations on the announcement. Also from The Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called an emergency meeting of the PA leadership to discuss US President Barack Obama’s speech on peace in the Middle East, an official in Ramallah said.
Abbas has also decided to hold urgent consultations with a number of Arab leaders on the speech, the official said.
PLO Executive Committee member Saeb Erekat said that Abbas remained committed to fulfilling all Palestinian obligations in accordance with international agreements, especially the road-map plan and the 2002 Arab peace initiative.
Erekat said that the PA was hoping the Israeli government would fulfill its obligations “to give the peace process the chance it deserves.”
In the US Presidential Candidate former Governor Mitt Romney(R-MA) accused Obama of abandoning Israel. From The Hill:
President Obama “disrespected” Israel and threw it “under the bus” in a wide-ranging speech on the Middle East on Thursday, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney charged.
Romney strongly criticized Obama, who, in a speech at the State Department, called for Israel to return to its border lines as drawn before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
“President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said in a statement.