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What they're saying about Obama's Mideast speech, mainly on Israel and Palestine

Full text of President Obama's latest Middle East speech is available here.

Now, for some reactions:

Office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.
Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.

Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel. Without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace.

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper:

We welcome the president's recognition of Israel's security needs and that Hamas cannot be a partner in the peace process, but a call to a return to 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, even with "land swaps," is a non-starter, when at least half of the Palestinian rulers are committed to Israel's destruction. The road to peace has been clear for a long time -- direct negotiations between parties who recognize each other's legitimacy.

Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.

George Will:

Obama should have said nothing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his prior statements (about Israel housing construction, and a deadline for a peace settlement) having made matters worse. Obama's idea -- Israel's, too -- is "two states for two people." Now, there is nothing more to be said until a Palestinian leader also says that.

Edward Walker of Hamilton College and former ambassador to Israel and Egypt for President Clinton:

The president's speech on the Middle East was clear about where he wants to go and not so clear on how to get there.

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio of the Foreign Relations Committee:

I’m pleased the president used his unique platform to address America and the Middle East during this critical moment in history.  We need to back up our words with actions and policies. Our actions should leave no doubt that America is on the side of those who strive for freedom....

Unfortunately, the president’s reference to Israel’s 1967 borders marks a step back in the peace process, as the U.S. must not pre-determine the outcome of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Our focus should be in encouraging direct and meaningful negotiations between the sides, and to continue playing an important role as a security guarantor in the region.

Republican former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand. The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided.

To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen.  At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

President Obama was very clear. And what we want is to continue to support the voices of democracy. Those who are standing against the brutality.  But we're also well aware every situation is different. 

And in this one, (Syrian President Bashar Al) Assad has said a lot of things that you didn't hear from other leaders in the region, about the kind of changes he would like to see. That may all be out the window, or he may have one last chance.

Republican Jewish Coalition:

....It is, in fact, President Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze as a pre-condition to negotiations, more than anything else, that doomed his administration’s peace-making efforts. That stand emboldened Palestinian extremists, damaged the PA’s ability to negotiate, and forced Israelis to question the sincerity of the administration’s friendship.

With that immediate history in mind, we are concerned that when President Obama speaks of “the 1967 borders,” he means borders for Israel that are much less secure and defensible and that put Israel at risk.

Leave your own reaction to the president's remarks in our Comments section below.

More reactions will be added here as they become available.

 
Comments () | Archives (19)

The comments to this entry are closed.

President Obama had no right to set boundries for Isreal. Congress should immediately have him retract that statement.

While Obama is telling Israel he will stand by her security he is sticking A KNIFE IN ISRAELS BACK. With other presidents you knew where you stood. With Obama he has many faces. His policy changes with the wind. He tells every group what they want to hear. At the end of the day it is typical extreme liberal anal retenive politics. Put your head between your legs President Obama and retain the bull s**t that seeps out in gastric form. Inhale one two.

americans must rise up against this 5th column, how jews smile when our politicians cower to them, disgusting. 8-11 was motivated by our support for israel (google it) its in the commission report, but never reported why ?because jews dont care how many americans die in support of israel. remember in 1930 jews controlled 87 percent of media in germany and 100 percent of banking and 64 percent of government,same pattern again "acting as a collective to further jewish interests to the detriment of their host country" everything happens for a reason

Obama has made numerous mistakes in office; this one is the worst yet! America had better stand with Israel or suffer God's wrath. If Obama was the Christian he taunts himself to be, he would know this to be a fact!

While we all want to see a middle East peace deal, we must try all avenues to reach such peace. Yet the consistant stalling and turning back on previous agreements by the palestinians , must remind us that Peace can be reach only with a thru committment from the palestinians. I am not sure dictating a country to give up it's land thus increasing it's vulnerability and jepardizing its existance, is the way to start a Peace negotiation. SHALOM ISRAEL !

Every time he opens his mouth I am ashamed. Israel is our most loyal friend and he disrespects them! Today forgives another billion dollar Arab debt when Our country is struggling to survive his insane spending>>and he wants to give them more!!! What about the United States Of America, does he even like us?

God Bless America

This is Bull. Israel is our ally. And none of what he said was the words or feelings from any Americans I know, and the last time i checked he was supposed to be our representative for the US. Incite more violence and chaos for the Israeli's why don't you? This man is prompting another war and he needs to be impeached with haste before any more damage is done.

I agree that by asking Israel to forfeit land and to divide Jerusalem we are walking on very dangerous ground. This is one of the only countries in the middle east to truly support democracy and take a pro American stance. Israel is relying and has relied on our protection for years. I am disappointed by these demands to give up land that clearly belongs to Israel. Although I am sure this is not a mainstream popular view, the Scriptures in the Bible make it clear that God will deal with those who consider themselves an enemy of Israel. God says he will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel. It is my belief that we as a nation have not faced disaster, in spite of bad choices, because God recognized our unique ability to protect Israel. God help us all if we do not heed this warning.

USA should give Texas back to Mexico also

WOW i cannot believe anyone would actually turn their back on Israel as the President has done today. I support Israel only in prayer but to "throw them under the bus" is not what our policy has been since they became a nation and if i am not mistaken Israel is a member of NATO and the countries surrounding Israel is not. So as the President has turned his back on a member of NATO who is next?? Brittian..... Germany....... France????

I am from tuscaloosa alabama. I wa very happy to see my president visit my town in concern for my city. But after today i can honestly say i am emnbarrassed that my leader would even consider turning his back on israel. Mr.president, you need jesus

Obama is taking a lot of heat for this, but the US has been wearing Israel around our necks like an albatross, and the only way for the Middle East to not want to kill us is if we do something to help a Palestinian state be formed.
Poll: Is Obama right to urge for the recognition of the 67 Palestine borders?
Link: http://www.wepolls.com/r/462872

Israel consistently disrespects the United States and has even spied on the US. An ally is as an ally does; the US can't support Israel's illegal occupation and the brutal Arab dictators if the US wants to be taken seriously. The US bends over backwards for its oppressive Arab and Israeli allies so it's time these regimes start respecting the US. If Israel and these dictators want to ignore the US' best interests, then they can stop cashing our checks and stop depending on our military.

Finally, let's not forget that Jimmy Carter is the only President to broker a long term peace between Egypt and Israel and he did that by being firm with both sides. Obama must be firm with Israel or else Israel will continue to destroy itself through its oppressive and brutal occupation of the Palestinians.

From "Democracy Now" TV program of 5/20/2011

In 2007, Bush said that "There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. [An] agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people." And Bush went on to say, "These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent." And, "It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other’s fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement." So, Bush said that you needed security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state, that were in the mutual interest of both parties. How different is what Bush said three years ago from what Obama said yesterday?

This should've been called:

"What rigid Israeli supporters and the president's political enemies are saying about Obama's Mideast speech, mainly on Israel and Palestine"

There was quite a bit of praise for the president's courageous speech, too bad Malcolm didn't feel obligated to quote that perspective.

The US President does not have the depth of knowledge, nor the required experience to provide depth of expertise necessary to maintain a leadership
position in the current and future Middle East issues. Obama does not even
possess an appropriate mature understanding of his own faith/religion, and
is clearly unqualified, as to historic awareness, to manage and maintain an
intelligent thought process to deal with the challenges of Israel and Palestine.
Same facts regarding his advisors, including the Secretary of State, the VP,
and other pretenders in the current administration.

The hyper inflated reactions such as references to Auschwitz are appalling, and only underline how they will disrespect genuine victims in a pathetic attempt to associate themselves with tragedy as a way to immunise themselves from criticism.

It's a shame that a politician who I look up to would ignore the obvious human rights violations by Israel. It's really a shame that apartheid still exists in this world and I sincerely hope that U.S. policies to diplomacy in the Middle East developing into something more peaceful.

It is true that Hamas is terrible. But in my mind, Obama needs to bring the situation between these two states into perspective and see the tracks of trot committed.

44 years gone by and still no piece except for a whole lot of land snatching done by Israel along with trillions of dollars handed down to them by the US. Land should be returned and both side should follow through with the 1967 agreement!

European jews need to understand that they have no claim to any land in the middle east. European jews are not even watered down jews; they are converts. At least, If they looked like the people of the surrounding countries, then their claim would probably be more acceptable. At the same time, this great difference has helped EUROPEAN jews fight against terrorism in the middle east, so if anyone thinks that they are an elite military group, then they have been fooled.

The politicians that are backing israel know very well that there is a pot of gold at the end of jewish rainbow. Politicains are all about self interest, which is something that EUROPEAN Jews know very, very well.

I am totally against Israel becoming a jewish state because as soon as someone complains about anything about israel, automatically it is going to be considered antisemitic (sooooooooo warned out).

If you call me an antisemetic, then I will call you an antigentile!



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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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