Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama:Differences on Formulations and language; Netanyahu:It falls on my shoulders to secure Israel

After meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu for much longer than scheduled, President Obama told a press pool that "differences" remain between the United States and Israel over the "precise formulations and language" for a deal on Middle East peace.

"That’s going to happen between friends".
He was optimistic that it is possible to find a deal that will safeguard Israel's security as well as resolve the conflict.

Obama acknowledged that it is difficult for Israel to enter negotiations with Hamas who does not recognize Israel, and the Palestinian Authority must "answer some very serious questions" in light of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal.

The U.S. president condemned Hamas for perpetrating terror against Israel, saying this not acceptable for the peace process. He said any deal must be based on Quartet guidelines.

Obama concluded that his meeting with Netanyahu was constructive, adding that American ties with Israel remain close and that he looks forward to a "new age of prosperity" in the coming weeks and years

Netanyahu repeated his position against Obama's desire for Israel to revert to pre-1967 borders. "These lines are indefensible, because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes," he said.
"We cannot go back to those lines, Israel wants peace. I want peace. Israel can make some concessions in peace talks, but 1967 lines are 'indefensible'..."
“The only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakeable facts. I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities". 
“We don’t have a lot of margin for error, because Mr President, history will not give the Jewish people another chance.”

Some key points from Netanyahu:
  • The 1967 borders are "indefensible"
  • Palestinian leader Abbas must reject his partnership with terrorist group Hamas, whom he characterized as Israel's Al-Qaeda.
  • Palestinian refugees can not have a right of return within Israeli borders (zero surprise there).
Netanyahu said his nation could not negotiate with a newly constituted Palestinian unity government that includes the radical Hamas movement, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist. He said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to choose between continuing the deal with Hamas and making peace with Israel.