“But beyond that, Obama’s statement was irresponsible on so many levels. He handed, on a golden platter, a ‘non-negotiable’ to the Palestinian side, a reason to leave the table at any time. Ultimately, what Obama created is a Catch-22, a dead end for any fruitful peace talks. If Israel refuses to return to pre-67 borders, the Palestinians leave the discussion. But, as Netanyahu clearly and repeatedly iterated, Israel cannot agree to such terms.”
These words were not written today, nor immediately after Palestine declared its intention to unilaterally seek recognition of statehood from the UN, but following Obama’s catastrophe of a speech delivered in May of this year. In that speech, Obama endorsed a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, namely comprised of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Naturally a furor followed, with all shades and stripes of pro-Israel groups protesting the President’s words.
But the true consequence of his speech was that it prompted the Palestinian side to unilaterally seek statehood recognition from the UN. Unfortunately, as we predicted, the Palestinians left the table. While the Palestinian side continues to voice its support of the Oslo process, unfortunately, as we predicted, the Palestinians have left the building.
We talked about the irresponsibility of Obama’s words, we even used the word dangerous, but we didn’t realize the depth of the potential damage. Regardless of whether one supports a Palestinian state, and even if one believes the future state should be established on pre-1967 lines, there is a process. Coming and going from Oslo as the situation befits is not only wrong, but certainly won’t go far in engendering trust.
Obama’s words served as a green light and his last ditch efforts at changing the light to red have come way too late. How he failed in May to realize the danger of adding this sentiment to the already percolating cauldron of unrest in the Middle East is beyond our understanding.