Thursday, May 19, 2011

From Chill to Outrage - Mixed reactions as Israel digests Obama's peace plan

(via Leland Vittert-Foxnews, Jpost, and more).When reached via cell phone immediately after President Obama’s speech urging a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev sounded as though he had been slapped in the face.

While the idea of using the 1967 borders as a starting point to negotiate land swaps for a final peace deal is not new, hearing an American president use those words sent chills through the Netanyahu government, which is loathe to even think the words “'67 borders.”

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, also from the Likud, who as a minister close to Netanyahu must be more diplomatic, said on Channel 2 that according to Obama’s approach, the Palestinians would receive what they were demanding on borders before negotiations begin.

“Once they have everything from the start, they have no reason to make any concessions,” Erdan said.

Kadima’s MK Otniel Schneller turned the focus back on his own party, however, calling on the opposition’s leadership to take a strong stand behind the prime minister on issues of foreign policy in light of Obama’s speech.
“Obama’s speech has placed before Israeli society and its representatives the challenge of unity and national agreement. The political disagreements and the motivatio".
“On the level of diplomatic policy, Kadima believes in the same principles presented by the prime minister, which constitute the basis for a diplomatic program that the previous government under [prime minister Ehud] Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni tried to advance, It would be appropriate if during the prime minister’s meeting with President Obama, everyone knew that the prime minister has no opposition when it comes to realizing his diplomatic initiative. We should expect mature leadership from the heads of all of the Zionist parties on the existential questions facing Israel and its strategic interests.”
Speaking with Fox News immediately after the speech, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Dore Gold called the speech a “a radical shift in U.S. policy.”

The Israel Project, a pro-Israel education organization which has called the Palestinian plan to unilaterally seek recognition of a state on the 1967 borders in the United Nations’ General Assembly in September “a clear attempt to delegitimize and attack Israel,” found much that was praiseworthy in Obama’s speech.

“He told Palestinians that they should return to negotiations rather than seek empty declarations at the U.N. that will gain them nothing. That is an important marker that the United States will oppose that effort,” Israel Project Senior Director Alan Elsner said.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, said that the president’s speech “undermines our special relationship with Israel and weakens our ally’s ability to defend itself.”
By keeping the burden and thus the spotlight on Israel, the President is only giving the Palestinian Authority more incentive to carry on its unhelpful game of sidestepping negotiations and failing to put an end to terrorism, Creating another Palestinian terror state on Israel’s borders is something that none of us want.