Obama's Speech, the 1967 Borders, and Media Distortion
I'm baffled by the suggestion that Obama called for Israel to return to its 1967 borders or advanced a radical departure from the stance, or even the language, of previous administrations. What he said was this:
The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states [my emphasis].
There is a universe of difference between "go back to the 1967 lines" and "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure borders are established." The first would be big news, the second is basically what everyone has always said and means nothing. The devil, as everyone knows, is in the details; if you insert the words "mutually agreed," and do not specify what swaps, exactly, we're talking about--but do specify that they must be "secure"--you are not calling for a return to the 1967 borders. The 1967 borders were not secure, and no Israeli negotiator would agree to return to them. So they couldn't be "mutually agreed."
This part is more important:
Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.
Although even that is a bit vacuous.
The speech is something of a Rorschach test: The language was sufficiently vague that people heard what they expected to hear. But I simply don't see how anyone can get "Go back to the 1967 borders" out of those words. Comments such as Mitt Romney's to the effect that Obama "threw Israel under a bus" or "disrespected Israel" are disingenuous.
Nor did I see Netanyahu's response as "bristling" or "outraged," as is being widely reported. What he said was compatible with what Obama said--basically, that the 1967 borders were indefensible, so there must be "mutually agreed swaps" that result in "security."
What everyone knows, and has been left unsaid, is that there will be no "mutual agreement" about anything if Israel's negotiating counterparts don't recognize Israel's right to exist. This is so far from being the case right now that the discussion is just a bunch of vapor.
There was much to criticize in that speech (how did he avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia while stressing women's rights, for example?), but that part just isn't worth the handwringing.