Rejection is the road to peace
Negotiation begins with in-your-face confrontation. Knowing that the Palestinians would propose starting with the 1967 borders, President Obama made that play in advance with Netanyahu because it would be easier to have Obama take the brunt of rejection than to have the meaningless exchange with Palestinians that has happened so many times before.
This time, Obama lobbed one over the plate, knowing that Netanyahu would hit the ball and Obama caught it.
The President may have said: “What I have in my glove is an unrealistic view of the boundaries. What you have today is an unworkable view of the boundaries. Let’s pursue what might be workable and manageable such that Israel can secure the country and Palestinians have a reasonable place of their own.”
Netanyahu might have said to the pitcher: “We want peace but you must consider unshakable facts about the situation. The 1967 boundaries are indefensible. So, the starting position begins with defensible boundaries.”
Is that progress? Maybe.
Of course then there has to be conversation with the Palestinians who want defensible borders.
However, Palestinians don't have to worry about defense because they are not going to be permitted to have an army of their own, only police to keep law and order within their own boundaries to be determined.
“In meeting with Obama, Netanyahu rules out Israeli withdrawal to 1967 boundaries By Scott Wilson, Published: May 20
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suggested Friday that President Obama holds an unrealistic view of how to achieve peace in the Middle East, saying that Israel would never pull back to the boundaries that the American president said a day earlier must be the basis for negotiations.
The unusual Oval Office exchange, following a nearly two-hour meeting, laid bare the fundamental differences between Obama and the hawkish leader of the chief U.S. ally in the Middle East. Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, injected partisan politics into the debate by vowing to formally condemn Obama’s position toward Israel in a resolution next week.
Obama and Netanyahu are allies only by tradition, and their relationship lacks personal warmth and is tested often by their differing political views. As they acknowledged their divisions in an appearance before reporters at the White House, it was clear that the split would not be easily resolved at a time when the Middle East and North Africa are undergoing historic political change.
“Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure,” said Netanyahu, addressing Obama next to him but also an evening television audience in Israel. “The only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakable facts. I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities.”
Netanyahu, in a lecturing tone, then ruled out an Israeli withdrawal to the nation’s boundaries on the eve of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which ended with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and other territories under Israel’s control.
Only a day earlier, Obama called for those 1967 lines to be the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations over final borders, adding that negotiated land swaps would also be needed.
His predecessor, George W. Bush, had called Israel’s withdrawal to those lines “unrealistic,” given the large Israeli settlements that have been built in the West Bank over more than four decades of occupation.
Israel “cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible,” Netanyahu said Friday. “They don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.”
Administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, said that Obama, like Bush before him, knows Israel will almost certainly not return to the 1967 lines in a final peace agreement. But the officials said Obama chose to stress a different starting point for talks, even though the negotiated outcome might be the same, to introduce a new element into what has been a stalled process.
“The positions are consistent,” one official said, referring to Obama’s and Bush’s policies toward negotiations. “We certainly know what the president’s position doesn’t mean — a return to the 1967 lines.”
Obama’s reference to the 1967 lines as a basis for talks, which took Israeli officials by surprise, prompted debate within the administration over how much pressure — or how little — he should apply to Israel at this time of political uncertainty across the Middle East, including in the Arab countries that are Israel’s neighbors.”