Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama’s vision of a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 could leave the Jewish state “indefensible”.
“The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence,” the Israeli leader said in a statement before flying to Washington for scheduled talks with Obama on Friday.
Responding to an Obama speech on Thursday outlining Middle East strategy, Netanyahu said he expected Washington to let Israel keep major settlement blocs beyond the 1967 lines in the occupied West Bank under any peace deal with the Palestinians.
Setting out the principles of a Middle East peace accord, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
He called for a deal resulting in two states, Israel and Palestine, sharing the border that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.
It would include “mutually agreed land swaps”, he said. Netanyahu said he expected “to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004” — an allusion to a letter by then-President George W. Bush suggesting the Jewish state may keep big settlement blocs as part of any peace pact with the Palestinians.
“Those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu added. Such a border, he said, would be “indefensible.”
ABBAS “APPRECIATES” OBAMA EFFORTS
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Obama’s efforts to renew the talks with Israel that collapsed last year, and had made plans to convene an “emergency” session of Palestinian and Arab officials to weigh further steps, a senior aide said.
Saeb Erekat, a former chief peace negotiator, said: “Abbas expresses his appreciation of the continuous efforts exerted by President Obama with the objective of resuming the permanent status talks in the hope of reaching a final status agreement.”
Obama’s blunt language about the need to find an end to Israel’s occupation of Arab land looked certain to be the crunch issue in his talks with Netanyahu.
“The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation,” Obama said.
His emphasis on 1967 borders, while not a policy shift, went further than Obama has before in offering principles for resolving the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.
But he stopped short of presenting a formal U.S. peace plan.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/netanyahu-israel-obama-speech/2011/05/19/id/397054
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