For the US chattering class, president Obama's talk on the Middle East at Foggy Bottom seemed like the same old, same old. And in a way, it was. What wasn't and the New York Times man in Israel with a son in the 'Tsuhal' or IDF [Israeli Defence Force] baldly put it: 'It is the first time an American president has explicitly endorsed [the 1967] borders as the baseline for negotiations'.
With those words, sweetened by the stock phrases -- 'Israel's right to defend itself'; Israel has a right to exist and the like -- Obama knocked the pins out from under right wing premier 'Bibi' Netenyahu's almost 20 years of delays that began by sabotaging the Oslo Accords and went on to expand illegal settlements and expulsion of Palestinians in the west bank and east Jerusalem of their land and homes, justified by a hoary reading of biblical accounts that the land of Samaria and Judea belonged to two Jewish kingdoms which ceased to exist thousands of years ago.
Now the Zionist state is between a rock and a hard place. The American president's words have branded Israel an occupier who has to abandon Israel's pretensions for a state stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Furthermore, it has to evacuate the west bank which represents the territorial integrity of a Palestinian state to be. And one that the UN General Assembly is very likely to recognise and confer statehood in September.
Netenyahu, as a Revisionist Zionist, will resist as he always has. [GuamDiary has already commented on Simon Schema's interview with Tzipi Lipni, also a Revisionist Zionist and leader of the Kadima party, which Ariel Sharon cobbled together. As a former member of Mossad and foreign minister, she acknowledges that time is not on Israel's side; she says that all items are on the table for discussion of a peace treaty and the creation of a Palestinian state on the west bank and in Gaza, including east Jerusalem and the removal of illegal settlements.]
Obama is trying to avoid recognition of Palestine by the UN, which he probably won't be able to delay. The US president's recognition of the 1967 boundaries as a basis for a peace treaty with Israel is a clean sign that the debate in the White House is over; Hillary Clinton has won over the objections of pro Israeli advisors like Dennis Ross.
At tomorrow's gathering of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee], at which both Netenyahu and Obama are going to address should prove interesting. The president will be frostily received. His words on the other hand should bolster another Jewish lobby group, J Street, which had a full page ad in today's NYT, urging him to call for rolling Israel's expansion back to the 1967 borders.
More likely than not, the Arab and Muslim world will applaud Obama for his seemingly bold words, which are long overdue. He will surely draw rapid fire criticism from the hard core supporters of Israel for whom any criticism is equated with anti Semitism. In fact, Obama's position on the 1967 borders should now make hollow such a charge.
If the UN does accord 'de jure' and 'de facto' status on a Palestinian state under 43 years of Israeli occupation, what will the Zionist state do? Will it pick up its marbles and walk away? If it does that it will darken its own image since in the 1930s Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany walked out of the League of Nations.
The implications of Obama's recognition of the 1967 borders for Palestinian independence will in the longer run force Israel to adapt to the swiftly changing reality within the Arab world and its own untenable claims. Ultimately, it will have to admit that it is a Levantine state, no more no less. Anything less than that will put Israel on the path to war with its neighbours.