President Obama’s endorsement of Palestine’s plans to reclaim refugees and reorganize borders with Israel has drawn a firestorm of criticism, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Some, like GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, have fired back publicly. According to Romney, Obama “has thrown Israel under the bus.”
A return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders
In five days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress during his Washington, D.C., visit. President Obama’s proclamation – made ostensibly in the interests of peace in the Middle East – is sure to be the elephant in the room.
“The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome,” said Obama during his State Department address on Middle East policy. “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.”
Romney says Obama has undermined the peace process
Romney believes Obama has shown disrespect to Israel, a U.S. ally. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania agreed, saying that allowing millions of Palestinian refugees back in and forcing Israel to flex its borders to accommodate them creates security risks that ignore the entirety of the 60-plus-year history of conflict for the “Holy Land.” GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida blasted Obama for not calling upon Palestine to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
The president denied that he is insensitive to Israel’s security and drove home the idea that a change in attitude is needed:
“Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist,” he said.
Netanyahu says US ‘does not understand reality’
Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, perhaps still on edge over comments made by Vice President Joe Biden last year during a visit to a West Bank Jewish settlement construction project, did not mince words over Obama’s State Department speech.
“There are things that can’t be swept under the carpet,” said Netanyahu, who believes moving in the refugees would make Israel “indefensible.”
According to Reuters, Netanyahu had expected Obama to toe the line President George W. Bush had drawn in 2004 when he suggested that a Middle Eastern peace pact should include protection for “big” Jewish settlement blocs.
Palestine must answer for Hamas
Obama’s speech did include some points that Palestinian leaders will likely disdain. Namely, he asked questions about a reconciliation deal between Palestinian leaders and Gaza Islamic group Hamas. The Obama administration considers Hamas a terrorist organization.
Christian Science Monitor: http://bit.ly/iO9Ud0
Relations between US and Israel tense since Biden’s visit
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