Last month, when President Obama reiterated the long-standing U.S. policy that a negotiated peace agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be based on the pre-1967 borders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his allies in Congress, and no small number of beltway journalists were inexplicably up in arms that Obama was espousing a policy that would leave Israel “indefensible” and threaten “Israel’s very right to exist.”
Pro-Israel Republicans and supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu are having a field day with a newly-released AIPAC policy memo denouncing a Palestinian call for Israel to accept a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps as a precondition for negotiations.
But asked by ThinkProgress if the memo was attacking Obama’s remarks about 1967 lines with mutual swaps, AIPAC spokesperson Ari Goldberg responded, “certainly not.” Rather, he said, the memo was intended as a criticism of Palestinians’ erecting obstacles to coming to the table: “It’s a statement that we believe that the Palestinian use of that as a condition to restart talks is — that’s what we’re attacking.”
AIPAC seems to be tip-toeing along a delicate line, but right wing bloggers and a GOP operative — and one unnamed Democratic operative — seem to clearly think the memo is a thinly-veiled attack on Obama’s framework for talks.
AIPAC’s memo is a rare peek behind the curtain at the discontent if not anger simmering in the pro-Israel community. That AIPAC’s membership is overwhelmingly Democratic only reinforces the veiled warning to the administration.
And Commentary’s Alana Goodman picked up a similar line in her post, “AIPAC Takes Swipe at Obama?”:
While the AIPAC memo only takes a passing swing at Obama—after all, 1967 borders with land swaps were the understood position of the past two U.S. administrations on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—emails received by Washington Jewish Week reporter Adam Kredo would suggest that both Republican and Democratic supporters of Netanyahu are seizing on the 1967 borders meme.
Indeed, Kredo received two emails, one from a Democratic operative and one from a Republican. He summarizes both emails as saying:
The Palestinians are taking their 1967 cues from President Barack Obama. It was Obama, after all, who ignited the 1967 border debate (with mutual land swaps, of course)…
The email from the Republican went even further:
“Interesting that Obama sets the preconditions on settlements and the ’67 lines and AIPAC attacks the PA for adopting them,” said the Republican operative. “You could have substituted the president’s name for Abbas’s in parts of the press release and it would have been just as accurate. So much for speaking truth to power.”
But while pro-Netanyahu Republicans and Democrats might be working to spin AIPAC’s memo as a hit on Obama, AIPAC spokesperson Goldberg actually defended Obama’s comments on 1967 borders, telling ThinkProgress:
Obama basically talked about his vision for a solution to the conflict. That’s legit, but the Palestinians are taking that and saying ‘we’re not going to talk until this precondition is met.’
While Netanyahu’s supporters in Washington are eager to portray Obama as anti-Israel, AIPAC denied that their memo’s intention was to smear the White House’s position on 1967 borders or Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, which both AIPAC and Netanyahu have praised. So why are conservative pundits and supporters of Netanyahu continuing to beat this dead horse?