Yesterday President Obama spoke at AIPAC and reiterated what he said in last week’s Middle East speech: that Israeli and Palestinian peace will “involve two states” based on the the 1967 borders with land swaps.
The right has been trying to gin up Obama’s stance as some sort of affront to Israel, despite the fact that Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni backs Obama and so do Israelis themselves. But nonetheless, the American right is trying to turn it into a U.S. domestic political issue. And this morning on Fox News, John Bolton predictably joined in, saying that Obama is “flatly wrong” that the 1967 borders with land swaps has been long-standing U.S. policy:
HOST: [Obama] said that this is long standing U.S. policy. That he was simply coming out and clarifying it. But that this is really the way that the US, this is the line that we have towed for many, many years. Is he right?
BOLTON: He’s flatly wrong on that. If you go back to foundation of the UN Security Council Resolution 242 after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, that resolution calls for all states in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. It doesn’t say anything about the 67 line or anything else. And I think that’s a key point here. That 67 line was a 1949 Armistice line. It simply reflects where the Israeli and Arab armies ended up the conflict. There’s another armistice line too, the 1973 Armistice line, which is israel’s greatest extent of control. If you’re going to start with any line, why not start with that line.
It’s been well documented throughout the past week that by publicly endorsing the 1967 borders with land swaps as the basis for negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, the President was simply putting words to long standing U.S. policy. But Bolton’s claim that UNSCR 242, passed in November 1967, “doesn’t say anything about the 67 line” is false. From the resolution:
Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
Seeing that the resolution was passed in 1967, it’s therefore more than reasonable to conclude that “recent conflict” refers to the 1967 Six Day War in which the Israelis acquired large swaths of Arab lands.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg makes an important point about Netanyahu, his Likud allies and the American right using the Israel/Palestine issue as a wedge issue in U.S. domestic politics:
For decades, Israel has been a bipartisan cause on Capitol Hill. It will remain so for a while, but Netanyahu is, through his pedantic and pinched behavior, helping to weaken Israel’s standing among Democrats. Why is this so important? Because Israel has no friends left in the world except for the United States (and in fairer weather, Canada, Australia and Germany). As it moves toward a confrontation with Iran, it needs wall-to-wall support in America. You would think that Netanyahu, who is sincere in his oft-stated belief that Iran poses quite possibly the greatest danger Israel has ever faced, would be working harder than he is to ensure Democratic, and presidential, support, for this cause.
So Bolton isn’t doing Netanyahu, or Israel, any favors. Particularly by endorsing two-state negotiations to start at 1973 lines. The only thing that will guarantee is a failure of a two-state solution.