Right wingers in the U.S. and Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, freaked out last week when President Obama said in his Middle East speech that Israel’s 1967 borders, with land swaps, should be the basis for a two-state peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It has been well documented that the President was simply putting words to long-standing U.S. policy. Yet Obama’s opponents have tried very hard to paint the President as anti-Israel because of it.
Eliot Spitzer confronted former AIPAC official Steven Rosen with this fact last night on CNN. Yet Rosen was unwilling to accept that the 1967 borders with land swaps has been U.S. policy for years and repeatedly changed the subject or said “it was new” when Spitzer pressed:
SPITZER: Did the prime minister ignore much of what the president said, President Obama said that was good for Israel? And was he getting upset with the phrasing that actually articulated what U.S. policy has been for a number of years? Quickly give me your view on that.
ROSEN: Netanyahu thank the president for many of the positive elements in the speech. So I don’t think really there’s any question about that. But the president anticipated Israeli unhappiness. In fact, his advisers were divided. You had the secretary of state on one side and you had the national security adviser, Tom Donilon, on the other side exactly because —
SPITZER: OK. But that’s not responsive to the question. The question was not whether anybody was upset. […] So Steven, tell me, isn’t that, hasn’t that been the essence regardless of who said it, hasn’t that been the core of the policy for years?
ROSEN: I think you’re leaving aside that it was the Palestinians who wanted the president to say this and the Israelis who in advance asked him not to.
“Let me try this once again,” an exasperated Spitzer said. But all Rosen could muster was that it “was a new policy.” Watch it:
Once again, this is not “a new policy.” As Andrew Sullivan pointed out yesterday, Netanyahu himself, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued a joint statement last November with Clinton iterating the exact same policy Obama talked about last week:
The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
“Netanyahu and Clinton discussed precisely the same proposal that Obama laid out in his speech — and there was no outcry of any kind,” The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer noted, adding, “This reveals all the faux-outrage for what it is: Pure political opportunism.”