Over the past twelve hours, most news outlets and commentators have focused on President Barack Obama’s partition plan: the 1949 (or “1967”) armistice lines for Israel and Palestine. This is of course a significant departure from US policy and great achievement for the Palestinians. (Read Robert Satloff’s analysis of this matter).
What may be worse than this, however, is Obama’s suggestion to immediately negotiate borders and security arrangements, and delay discussions on core issues such as Jerusalem and refugees.
This is a trap for Israel!
The very impatient Obama is demanding that the Palestinians “urgently” get a West Bank state without settling the conflict with Israel; a Palestinian state that will not be at peace with Israel.
According to Obama, first Israel withdraws – a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces” to allow for “a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state” – then the Palestinians continue to struggle for Jerusalem and refugee return. This, of course, means continuation of the conflict and no real recognition of Israel’s right to exist. It will provide another opportunity for Palestinians to swarm the 1949/1967 lines and to ramp up BDS and lawfare efforts until Israel accepts suicide through refugee “return” or the division of Jerusalem.
This is not a recipe for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Obama even left open the possibility that the US would support some sort of refugee return! Where was the standard US statement – previously quite clear — that Palestinian refugee rights would have to be satisfied in the context of a Palestinians state or though resettlement elsewhere in the Arab world? Why introduce doubt into what was previously a settled topic and thus allow the Palestinians to continue dreaming of drowning Israel with refugees?
Note also that Obama did not repeat the Quartet’s established stance on Hamas: that it cannot be a partner for peace unless it recognizes Israel, accepts past agreements, and forswears terror. Instead, he mumbled something about how the Fatah reconciliation with Hamas “raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel.”
Apparently the “questions raised” – what a weak formulation for referencing the genocidal Hamas platform regarding Israel! – don’t bother Obama all that much, since he just commanded Israel to facilitate a 1967-borders-state for the Palestinians including Hamas – without an end-of-conflict situation for Israel.