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.”
Later in the segment, he said this could lead to other concessions down the line in the name of the peace process. He also explained why the speech indicated that Obama “has sympathies everywhere except Israel.”
“Look, on two points, ’67 lines he established a new precedent,” Krauthammer said. “This is important. Not kicking of the can. It’s a new can. It’s new policy. Second, this idea of negotiating the borders, Israel giving up all the bargaining chips — once it gives up the ’67 line, what does it have bargaining chip? Then Israel enters in negotiation over the right of the turn the flooding of Israel with millions of Arabs and destroying Israel demographically as a Jewish state. It’s going to be negligent. It’s not going to have any negotiating chips. And the endorsement — every administration in the past has rejected the so-called right of return. Obama did indirectly. So why didn’t he do it directly? All of these assurances are pointing to a president who has sympathies everywhere except Israel. He is willing to endanger Israel with all of these steps and not postponement of the engagement.”