On Thursday, President Barack Obama gave a speech at the State Department in Washington, D.C. which was supposed to offer an indication of what American policy would be in the Middle East as the region was going through great transition. However, coming out of the speech many are questioning the president’s suggestion that Israel should withdrawal to pre-1967 boundaries.
On Thursday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer gave a very disparaging review of the president’s proposed policy. His major point of contention: Obama is willing to give away a bargaining chip without getting much in return.
“What Obama did today is something that no American president has ever done, which is to endorse the return to the 1967 lines which as you said would reduce Israel to a country with a waist eight miles wide,” Krauthammer said. “Now, the reason this is odd is because you’d expect it to be at least in return for something. But the Palestinians in the two-and-a-half years of this administration have not offered them anything as a concession to Israelis. [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas has boycotted the negotiation and then a few weeks ago, he joined in government with Hamas, dedicated to extermination of Israel. In return for all of those and the Israel gestures, Obama makes the biggest concession of the entire Arab-Israeli negotiations in 50 years.”
Krauthammer explained that the problem with this proposal is that it negates prior agreements Israel had made with the U.S. government.
“And second it’s an issue of trust,” he continued. “Whenever Israel negotiates, there’s an asymmetry. It gives away a tangible asset — land in return for promises which are ephemeral. America looks at that and says, ‘Look, we understand and thus we will balance the risk by giving us American assurances that will help you because of the asymmetry in negotiations.’ In 2000 and before, Israel was preparing withdrawal from Gaza and it got explicit written promises from the U.S. government that it would not ask Israel return to the ’67 lines and it would support Israel holding on to the close-in settlement as a new reality on the ground. But what Obama did today is tear up that agreement. If Israel cannot rely on the assurances of the United States, which is a way to balance the risks it takes and it cannot negotiate it – it has to wonder how much it can trust this American president.”