Ehud Barak On Obama Administration: ‘I Can Hardly Remember A Better Period’ Of U.S. Support For Israel

Ehud Barak and Barack Obama

When President Barack Obama, in his May 19 address on the Middle East, reiterated the long-standing U.S. position that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” the U.S. and Israeli right went berserk. The facts have always been out there, but right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu howled about how the 1967 borders were “indefensible,” though they’d been successfully defended in 1967. This week, Netanyahu undermined his own attack on Obama by agreeing to talks based on the 1967 lines (albeit while adding other pre-conditions).

Despite the hollow argument, Netanyahu’s allies on the U.S. neoconservative right were happy to oblige his attack. The Bill Kristol-led Emergency Committee for Israel said Obama was “stepping away” from the U.S.-Israel relationship — though ECI’s “director” had found nothing wrong with Obama’s speech.

Then, it turned out, most Israelis and Palestinians actually supported a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, as did Israel’s opposition leader. What’s more, Obama’s formulation was defended by AIPAC, the flagship pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.

And now yet another pillar of the farce that has been Israeli right wing and American neoconservative criticism of Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Israel is collapsing. In an interview on Fox News, Israel’s foreign minister (and former prime minister) Ehud Barak laid to rest the myth that the Obama administration is casting aside the U.S.’s special relationship with Israel.

Baited by Fox host Greta Van Sustren on whether “Israelis [are] disenchanted a little bit with the Obama administration,” Barak responded:

BARAK: No. Our countries are good friends. And I’m the minister of defense, I can tell you that I can hardly remember — I was in uniform for decades — I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.

And it’s true that not all the Israelis are really happy with the positions of the administration, but I should tell you honestly that the president didn’t say that Israel should go back to the borders of ’67. He made it very clear that he thinks that Palestinians deserve a state of their own. We also believe in two states, Israel side by side — secure Israel side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian state that will basically have the same area that’s West Bank and Gaza Strip had before ’67 with certain swaps, with understanding of the transformation on the ground. […] Some security consideration we take into account. I don’t think that contradicts what the president said.

Watch the video:

This, from the hawkish defense minister from Netanyahu’s own government, should finally make crystal clear that those in Congress and elsewhere who went after Obama’s comments were misled by a teeny cohort of politically motivated politicians from Netanyahu’s Likud Party and their allies in neoconservative punditry. Perhaps that’s why some of these pundits have been unable to answer questions about their stances. The whole thing was little more than politically-motivated spin, a public relations theater for far right audiences.

But with the Israeli prime minister taking a patently dishonest stand to lead the charge against a U.S. president that has, by almost all accounts, vowed nothing short of full diplomatic support for Israel and broadened the security relationship to heretofore unseen heights, maybe we should be asking who exactly is trying to drive a wedge in the U.S.-Israel relationship here.


At the Washington Jewish Week, Adam Kredo examines an administration messaging shift on Israel and concludes that, on U.S.-Israel military and intelligence ties, “Obama has simply been solid.”

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