President Obama in a speech this week on the Middle East, surprised everyone by stating that, in the interest of peace, Israel might return to it’s 1967 borders. It was an unexpected statement that spread confusion and contrasted sharply with America’s foreign policy towards Israel causing many to wonder if Obama had suddenly shifted his position. Interestingly, the president felt he needed to clarify his remarks – clarification that many believe was little more than backtracking.
To ask Israel to return to these borders, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is tantamount to asking them to commit suicide. Israel would be reduced to a strip of land 9 miles wide – a geographic area so slim that Hamas and whatever other terrorists are harbored just outside their borders could easily fire rockets and missiles at any location. It would simply be indefensible.
Netanyahu has firmly rejected any idea that involves a retreat to these borders. Forget land swaps and border negotiations, there won’t even be discussions for peace between Israel and Palestine unless President Asif Ali Zardari breaks ties with Hamas – a sworn enemy of Israel. Hamas daily fires rockets into Israel killing indiscriminately.
That President Obama thinks Israel’s geographical reduction is a good idea and further says that the United States thinks this is a good idea is easily a lie. Most people who heard the President’s speech instantly recognized that his new policy was a significant departure from previous administration’s policies towards Israel. While America and Israel are close allies and have always been, since the Obama administration has held power that alliance has been shaken and a gap has widened between the two leaders. Obama seems to believe he has the uncanny ability to solve this ancient conflict between these peoples by demanding compromise and land swaps – he loves the land swaps.
Israel’s borders as they stand today are a result of conquest during the 6 Day War in 1967. Jordan, Egypt and Syria amassed their armies around Israel and intentionally committed an act of war against Israel. Israel then retaliated and defeated these nations in a six days which ended with Israel taking control of multiple pieces of land – all essential to their security and better defense. They were also “spoils of war”. But these nations want their land back (along with their pride) and Obama wants to give it to them. Obama’s policy can be seen as appeasing the aggressor and punishing the victim.
Netanyahu has stated that he is willing to make painful concessions to achieve peace – to avoid the daily bombardment and the ever-present threat of attack – but never to the point of endangering themselves even more. It is the right choice and it is furthermore the only logical choice.
Let’s hope Obama recognizes the impossibility of his demands and lays his Savior-complex down.