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In his big speech on the Middle East today President Obama put down a marker for Israel ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington on Friday.He called for permanent borders for Israel and Palestine based on 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps. He acknowledged Israel’s concerns over the Fatah-Hamas unity pact.
Israeli defence Minister Ehud Barak had hinted that Netanyahu’s administration might be willing to make, “painful concessions regarding what he called part of our fatherland”. But the Prime Minister’s office has released a statement disagreeing with President Obama.
Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace. Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.
That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress. Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centres in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines. Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel.
…Prime Minister Netanyahu will also express his disappointment over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to embrace Hamas, a terror organisation committed to Israel’s destruction, as well as over Mahmoud Abbas’s recently expressed views which grossly distort history and make clear that Abbas seeks a Palestinian state in order to continue the conflict with Israel rather than end it.