Tuesday, May 24, 2011
President Barack Obama has lost at least one ally for his views on the Mideast. In a speech Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected Obama’s own talk last week in which he called for Israel to negotiate peace with the Palestinians using pre-1967 borders as a baseline, Politico reports.With friends and allies like Harry Reid, Mr. Obama has no need for enemies.
“The place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table — and nowhere else,” Reid told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Those negotiations . . . will not happen — and their terms will not be set — through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media.”
As for the borders issue, “No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building, or about anything else,” he said.
As you know, I applauded Mr. Obama's speech in my previous post. I don't agree with Harry Reid's analysis. If I thought that the Likud Government in Israel really wanted a peace settlement with an independent Palestine, I might give some thought to Mr. Reid's prescription. After many years of making excuses, the Likud Party has convinced me that it really doesn't want peace. It wants all of Biblical Israel. It wants the Palestinians to go away, to disappear, to move to other Arab-speaking countries, or to die off. I sense that Mr. Obama thinks as I do and for that reason he is trying to lay down the law to Mr. Netanyahu. The United States will support an Israel that agrees to live within the 1967 borders and will support any modification of that boundary that both Israel and the Palestinians agree to. The United States will not support Israel's continuing policy of delay and obfuscation while continuing to build more and more settlements in land that ought to belong to Palestine. This is what I think American policy should be.
As to Mr. Reid's echoing Mr. Netanyahu's "conditions" for peace negotiations, in which everything is on the table and there are no preconditions - except that the Palestinians agree and state publicly that Israel has a right to exist - I think that the first thing to agree on must be the boundaries between the two states. If Israel and Palestine can't or won't agree on boundaries, there is no point to proceeding further.
A final comment: does the government of Israel believe that Palestine has a right to exist?