Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
President Obama wants Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders. That would mean handing some of Christianity’s most sacred sites over to the Palestinian government, which for all intents is controlled by one of the world’s most radical terrorist organizations, Hamas.
Do you want them to control some of the most sacred sites of our Christian history?
I didn’t think so.
In a speech May 19, the president endorsed the Palestinians’ demand that their future state be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, a move that has infuriated our ally Israel and is certain to endanger Christians’ free access to holy sites.
In a meeting this week, the so-called “Quartet” — diplomats from the United States, European Union, the United Nations and Russia — apparently reached no agreement on a common set of principles for new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But Quartet representative Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, told Bloomberg Television the group wants to “take [Obama's] speech and turn it into a framework of guidance for these negotiations.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is moving forward with its proposal for United Nations statehood recognition, which will likely come before the Security Council later this month and the General Assembly in September.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas clearly sees the U.N. proposal as a big bargaining chip, stating that he will have “no choice but the United Nations” unless talks are restarted. The Arab League has now voted to support the Palestinians at the United Nations.
We can only assume that Abbas also wants a framework based on Obama’s speech, if negotiations are advantageous to his cause, but he is clearly determined to pursue his goal by any available method.
Although the United States is seen as promoting the Quartet initiative as an alternative to immediate Palestinian membership in the United Nations, it is hard to believe that the Obama administration will oppose membership if and when a border agreement is reached.
After Obama’s May 19 remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the president’s proposal and said a return to the pre-1967 borders would be disastrous for his country.
Netanyahu called the pre-1967 lines “indefensible,” saying such a withdrawal would jeopardize Israel’s security and “leave major population centers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) beyond those lines.”
And although Obama was careful to mention the possibility of “land swaps” in his proposal — presumably to allay the fears of those who are rightly concerned that the pre-1967 borders are his goal — the president seems more concerned with brokering a deal than with Israel’s security.
Mention of East Jerusalem and its holy sites is noticeably absent from the Obama proposal. In a scenario with pre-1967 borders, Israel will lose East Jerusalem.
The president needs to reassure Israelis that the United States stands firmly behind their sovereignty over the border. There can be no wiggle room here. Either we are with the Israelis or against them.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com, or e-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.