In a speech at the State Department on 19 May, President Obama referenced the Arab Spring as a reason to pursue a new round of peace talks between Israel and Palestine. But at the White House the following day, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu rejected any peace agreement based on the borders established in 1967, borders which have long been a benchmark for American presidential administrations in diplomatic negotiations. After President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to accepting the 1967 borders in his comments to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, Netanyahu expressed “appreciation”.
What’s the Big Idea?
Is the Arab Spring truly a new opportunity for peace in the Middle East or does America’s security commitment to Israel hamstring its bargaining power? Will the Jewish state be allowed to sidestep concessions necessary for peace? The concessions currently needed, according to Obama’s remarks on Sunday, are mutually agreed-upon land exchanges to compensate for Israeli settlements built inside territory recognized internationally as Palestinian since 1967. Netanyahu has said that because of demographic changes made in the last 44 years, the 1967 borders are militarily indefensible.