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Today‘s New York Times publishes an op-ed from former President Jimmy Carter, adding additional support for President Obama‘s position that the 1967 borders, plus mutually-agreed upon swaps be the starting point for negotiations. Former President Carter notes UN Findings, and the majority, world-wide opinion, for more than four decades supports Obama's position as to what should be the starting point for a peace negotiations.
The Unchanged Path to Mideast Peace

It was not a new U.S. policy concerning the borders of Israel, nor should it have been surprising to Israeli leaders, when President Obama stated: “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.”

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967, concluded the war of that year and has been widely acknowledged by all parties to be the basis for a peace agreement. Its key phrases are, “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” and “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” These included the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, plus lands belonging to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria.

At Camp David in 1978, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat accepted the following words: “The agreed basis for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors is United Nations Security Council resolution 242, in all its parts.”

Reminding us of history, Carter recounts:

Specifically concerning the West Bank and Gaza, the Israelis and Egyptians mutually agreed: “In order to provide full autonomy to the inhabitants under these arrangements the Israeli military government and its civilian administration will be withdrawn as soon as a self-governing authority has been freely elected by the inhabitants of these areas.”

...

As a result of the Oslo Accords of 1993, a self-governing authority was freely elected in January 1996, with Yasir Arafat as president and 88 Parliament members.
The International Quartet’s Roadmap for Peace in April 2003, supported by President George W. Bush, began with these words: “A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967.”

...

In addition, all 23 Arab nations and all 56 Islamic nations have offered peace and normal relations with Israel, but called upon Israel to affirm: “Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967.”

...

All these statements assume, of course, that Israel may live in peace within its internationally recognized borders — but not including territories it occupied during the 1967 war.

During all these decades members of the Israeli right-wing Likud, Shas, and other parties containing many advocates of the "Greater Israel" plans of expansion, encouraged illegal settlers to move into the these occupied terroritories, in defiance of international law, in order to establish "fact-on-the-ground" that would hamper any future peace agreements requiring these areas to be returned to the Palestinian people.

Some, estimate that as many as 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers have moved into these occupied terrortories, and some have suggested that the US, and/or the international communities compensate them for any real estate losses suffered as a consequence of being stranded on the "wrong side" of new borders.  

Part of the goal of mutually agreeable swaps, is to minimize the number of stranded settlers, in addition to providing Israel with more defensible borders in its mid-section.

For more than three decades, Israel’s occupation of Arab land has been the key unresolved issue. Stated simply, Israel must give up the occupied land in exchange for peace. There has never been any question regarding the occupied territory in international law as expressed through United Nations resolutions, the official policies of the United States, nor those of the International Quartet (the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia).

All, the proposals I am aware of, acknowledge the right of Palestine and Israel to negotiate mutually agreeable swaps, of equivalent amounts of land, on this foundation.  And, both sides have plenty of incentives to agree to such swaps.  Former President Carter continues:

One interesting proposal that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made to me in 2005 was that this exchanged land might comprise a corridor between Gaza and the West Bank (about 35 miles), on which a railroad and highway could be built. It would be provided security by Israelis but owned and operated by Palestinians. This is just one possibility.
Two recent developments add urgency to the peace process: moves to unite the major Palestinian factions so they can negotiate with a single voice, and the potential vote in the U.N. General Assembly in September to recognize Palestine as a state. It is likely that about 150 U.N. members are prepared to take this action.

Conclusion

All, the key parties in Israel know this history even better than we do.  I believe the best explanation of Prime Minister Netanyahu's furious indignation, is that this was part of his negotiating posturing.  As Alan Dershowitz, declared later, that Israel expects to get to this point eventually, but his criticism of President Obama, was for mentioning the 1967 plus swap plan, without tying it to the Palestinians agreeing to give up the claims to a "right-of-return."  Obama's big "error" from Dershowitz' point of view, was to lead Palestinians to think they can get Israel's agreement on this without giving up the right of return.

But, while these kinds of negotiating tactics work may work with direct stakeholders, in the context of a world audience, and distributed stakeholders, I think they can lead to confusion, and even backfire, as in this case.  The PM and his AIPAC supporters may be celebrating their unimagined success after 29 standing-ovations, before the US Congress, I believe the PM damaged his credibility, and created ill-will, among people who want to support Israel's security and position, and see a quick achievement of a two-state solution as the only way forward.

As alway, I request folks make an extra effort to be civil, charming, forgiving, constructive, positive, humorous, spontaneous, disciplined, kind, compassionate, wise, thoughtful, sensitive, colorful, creative, witty, vivid, upbeat, accurate, and fair, in our comments, on the middle east.  Other than that have fun.  

Most folks try to avoid these diaries, but it is in the interest of all of us who strive for a successful two-state solution where Israel, and Palestine can live in secure, just, and peaceful border side, by side, to make these diaries a positive, constructive place where all feel safe to express opinions, ask questions, and learn from one another, on what ways we can help advance the prospects of peace.  

Poll

Are you more, or less, likely to vote for President Obama, in 2012, based on his support of the 1967 boders plus agreed upon swaps, as a starting point?

15%6 votes
5%2 votes
7%3 votes
32%13 votes
25%10 votes
2%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
7%3 votes
0%0 votes
5%2 votes

| 40 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:07:55 AM PDT

    •  Woo! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, lgmcp, TomP, Adam AZ

      100% of the poll agrees with me!

      Of course, 100% of the poll is me, but let's not quibble.

      Seriously, Obama should be getting a lot more credit for trying to get in there and get this issue moving again.  Forget the picture diaries; this is the kind of thing I expected from him.  More of the same and you're going to see a more enthused base next year.

      •  Well, this settles it. Next case! :-) Obama is (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, Darmok, lgmcp, Adam AZ, Deep Texan

        on such a roll.  Last night I was listening to Shulz-Wasserman, note that we now only need 24 more victories to take back the House.  If Obama keeps up these level of energy he will have long coattails in the House and Senate.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:19:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How many votes do you see Darmok, my table shows (0+ / 0-)

        none.  I think there are still big bugs in DK4.  Yesterday I did a diary, and the recent diaries board, showed 12 recs, while my tip jar only showed 2.

        Now I don't have any votes in this poll.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:44:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't look as if President Obama is going to (0+ / 0-)

        lose any Daily Kos votes over this latest flap.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:03:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good report (13+ / 0-)

    Carter is, of course, correct.  Nothing Obama said was close to revolutionary; it was a restatement of standing US policy.  But on the other hand, the US rarely follows its own policy.  For instance, the US officially opposes Israeli settlements, but in reality to provides diplomatic protection for them (as well as funding the military force that allows them to exist).  Hence, Netanyahu's only real fear is not a change in US policy, but the thought that the US might one day uphold its own policy.

    Could other points:

    During all these decades members of the Israeli right-wing Likud, Shas, and other parties containing many advocates of the "Greater Israel" plans of expansion, encouraged illegal settlers to move into the these occupied terroritories, in defiance of international law, in order to establish "fact-on-the-ground" that would hamper any future peace agreements requiring these areas to be returned to the Palestinian people.

    Just as a small note, "leftist" Israeli governments (particularly Labor) moved at least as many Israeli colonists into the Occupied Territories as did right-wing governments, and supported them just as strongly.

    All, the key parties in Israel know this history even better than we do.  I believe the best explanation of Prime Minister Netanyahu's furious indignation, is that this was part of his negotiating posturing.  As Alan Dershowitz, declared later, that Israel expects to get to this point eventually, but his criticism of President Obama, was for mentioning the 1967 plus swap plan, without tying it to the Palestinians agreeing to give up the claims to a "right-of-return."

    I don't think this quite gets to the real issue.  Everyone knows a 2-state deal would involve land swaps.  But the key top negotiating from 1967 borders is not the right of return (that is separate), it has to do with what is swapped.  If 1967 is the starting point, then the land swaps must benefit both parties.  Most of the Israeli or pro-Israeli proposals are borderline nonsense from the Palestinian perspective (they transfer the hilltops and other valuable land and water throughout the West Bank to Israel, and then transfer a useless chunk of desert near Gaza (but maybe not even connected to Gaza) to Palestine).  Those "swaps" are roughly equal in size, but nowhere near equal in value (it's like trading my Hyundai for your Lexus; they are roughly the same size so it must be equal, right?).

    To start from the 1967 borders would take the more absurd pro-Israeli proposals off the table and force swaps of equal value that benefit both parties.  ALL Israeli governments have been against this.

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:20:56 AM PDT

    •  Thanks weasel. Even though you are differing (6+ / 0-)

      slightly, with my positions here, I see you adding information, educating us all, and contributing in exactly the positive way I hoped, so I am rec'cing you comments.

      And, to the best of my knowlege, you are correct.  I oversimplified the history too much.

      One of my writing goals is to learn to be more succint, and less pedantic.  So, I've been cutting everything by half, and am still too long.

      Thanks.  

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One very damaging piece of fallout (5+ / 0-)

      was that this episode revealed just how little leverage President Obama has to lean on Israel to get it accept terms that could even remotely form the basis of a deal.

      Obama stated something that really isn't controversial in reasonable company, and got hammered for it.

      Bibi went up and told a tale comprised of lies (we are not occupiers) and extraordinarily unreasonable demands (Palestinians must end unity agreement, Jordan Valley is IDF territory) before Congress, and received a worshipful response.

      Who on earth could watch that and think Obama is in a position to push Bibi in the right direction?

      I hope this was a wakeup call for President Obama, but I fear he would rather be noble than wise.

      "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

      by Geekesque on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:34:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am reminded of when GWB, of all people (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geekesque, HoundDog

        called on Israel to do some-or-other modestly conciliatory, and they thumbed their noses at him flagrantly.  He was shocked and hurt!   I recall he was quite petulant about it.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:03:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bush learned the correct lesson, that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, lgmcp

          there really is no role for the US to play here.   The President lacks leverage with the Israelis (they can just run to Congress and the media any time they don't like what he's saying and get him overruled) and also lacks credibility with the Palestinians and other Arabs when it comes to Israel.

          So, what can he do?

          Bush's decision was just to be a solid ringer for Israel and not fool anyone.  Not an enlightened choice, but one more firmly grounded in reality than Obama's thus far, which seems more about making the US look good than accomplishing anything.

          "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

          by Geekesque on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:10:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  President Obama will have to choose (7+ / 0-)

    between Israel (and Harper's Canada) and the rest of the world.

    Or better yet, just stop intermeddling in someone else's dispute.

    Trying to launch peace talks after this past week is like trying to perform CPR on a skeleton.

    The I/P 'peace process' is a dead parrot.

    September and the UN General Assembly is where the action is.   What rational decision-maker is going to view Bibi's stunt and the reaction from Congress and seriously think that there is a path forward based on negotiations?

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:21:44 AM PDT

    •  Oh, my friend, this parrot isn't (7+ / 0-)

      dead, it's just resting.  Pining for the fjords.

      The I/P 'peace process' is a dead parrot.

      Well, if you insist.  I think a UN General Assembly vote to accept Palestine as a member state, will be the next breakthrough, that gets the process going again.

      One encouraging aspect of UN rules, I've just learned is that the General Assembly can override the US Security Council Veto by invoking an "Emergency Session" under Article 377.  

      Both the AP, NYT, and Wikepedia now agree on these points, so I've been planning to write about it for about a week, and keep getting distracted.

      Then they need a 2/3 vote. Which apparently, they expect to get.  Although, the Palestinians may yield to Obama's pressure because they want US foriegn aid.

      Apparently, 112 countries have announce intentions to recognize Palestine in September.  and they expect to get 154, which may be the magic number, I'm still checking this out.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:37:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Quite honestly, to the degree that President (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, lgmcp, unspeakable

        Obama tries to derail that vote by lobbying on behalf of US-led negotiations, he will be part of the problem and not the solution.

        As I've said many times, the best thing President Obama can do is get out of the way.

        The Palestinians do not see him as credible, and the Israelis really do not care what he thinks, since they can cut him off at the knees with Congress.

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:51:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You put it a little more harshly than I would have (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geekesque, Adam AZ, Deep Texan

          but your basic point is valid, I think.

          Except for the surprising agreesiveness with which is spoke against the Palestinians seeking the UN endorsement, I would, see this as a small breakthrough that the US is highlighting the deadlock, tacitly, and without drawing criticisms from politicians, or lobbyists, kicking the whole matter to the UN, and international community.

          Which could be a good thing.

          Is it not apparent to all, that we've tried as hard as we "did", and it has not worked.

          No one believes the current negotiating process will move forward, or succeed.

          So, this clears the way, for others, like the Quartet, and UN to step in and give it a try.

          Which is why I support the UN application, and hope our President keeps a low profile on it.

          He's said the right words, to protect himself politically.  Now he can step back and let international pressures escalate.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:08:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I remember saying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque, Deep Texan, HoundDog

      way back in 1992 that "peace process" was a stupid term when there was no peace and no process.  It seemed to be a name for intractable deadlock.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:05:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jimmy Carter's I/P policy was excellent (7+ / 0-)

    and still is.  

    The controversy over his use of the term "apartheid" notwithstanding (http://www.democracynow.org/...) ... I think he was spot on.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:22:01 AM PDT

    •  I've been reading White House Diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, lgmcp, Geekesque

      saw it at my local library, and this week I've been down with the flu, so it's a perfect, though dry, read.

      He began working on ME peace almost immediately after he took office, and I concur.

    •  I agree. Jimmy Carter is one of the most (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Geekesque, Darmok, Lepanto, Deep Texan

      under-appreciated Presidents in history, IMO.

      My theory, is that we didn't have the internet then, (well, this isn't the theoretical part yet. lol) so the Republican attack machine set up by Richard Vigurie, Lee Atewater, and others, with their general mailing mills, were shredding us Democrats, and Jimmy Carter, with no defense.

      So, public opinion was driven down.

      If Daily Kos had been around then, Carter would have been much more appreciated.

      Particularly, galling, is when Bush Administration, and GOP criticized him.

      And, note, too, that history vindicates everything he said about the need to get off oil, and move to alternative, renewable, and sustainable energy sources.

      Can you imagine if we had listened then, what we could have done with all those trillions of dollars we instead shipped to the Middle East for oil?

      If we had invested that in our own energy infrastructures as he advocated, our economy would be booming and health now, I think.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:42:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Didn't he win a Noble Peace Prize for his effort? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deep Texan, lgmcp

      I seem to remember he did, but it was so long ago, I could be mistaken. I was in High School I think.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 12:09:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Carter is right of course. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    assyrian64, HoundDog, Geekesque, lgmcp

    But the situation is deadlocked at the moment.

    And the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are so large and so scattered that not even the wisdom of a Solomon could ever work out a series of swaps satisfactory to both Israel and the Palestinians.

    What is needed is a real shaker-upper to break the deadlock and get things moving. Could a UN resolution of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders fulfill such a role?

    Perhaps, but I'm not sure. What I am sure of, though, is that the Obama admin.'s  being against such a resolution (and what it might just achieve) to begin with is an extremely shortsighted and possibly counterproductive stance.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:40:50 AM PDT

    •  Agreed Lepanto. I don't think the UN GA (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque, lgmcp, Deep Texan

      recognition will be sufficient, but I think it is necesary, as without out, there is no force sufficient to displace this deadlock.

      None of the political leaders in any of the countries involved have enough power to do what would be necessary.

      We sort of have to go into the UN as an act of faith, and desparation, to see if this might mix things up enough to enable motion forward.

      One idea I've written about before is to use the UN as a "stalking horse" threat for all the leaders to be able to use as cover to go back to their constituency and say, we better make some painful compromises, are the future could be worse and get out of control.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu May 26, 2011 at 11:51:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bibi's "defensible" policy is a farce (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geekesque, HoundDog, Lepanto, lgmcp

    Netanyahu's usual excuse for not going back to the 1967 borders is that they are "indefensible".  This is presumably because the Israeli land mass is fairly narrow near Tel Aviv. But this is totally irrelevant.

    The size of the land mass might matter if one is contemplating early 20th century land war between armies.  If the Palestinian side of the line were seriously militarized, and a large army massed there, then perhaps it could mount a drive to the sea, splitting Israel in two.  If it were, say, 1930.  This discounts air power, and presumes an old style of warfare that no longer exists much.  It also assumes that Palestine hosted a large army without international supervision.

    The other reason for the traditional 3-mile or 12-mile limit is the range of artillery.  An old cannon could (at one point in history) shoot 3 miles.  Then a 12-mile shell came out during the 20th century.  Modern artillery can go a lot farther than that, of course, but ballistic missiles and air power again make the range of a cannon rather uninteresting.  Power can be projected over large distances.

    For Israel to be "defensible" in Bibi's mind, it would need to have a large buffer zone, unpopulated except by the IDF, between itself and any foreign state.  This is of course irrational.  The northern West Bank is one of the most fertile places in the Arab world, not a desert to be left empty as a huge DMZ.  No matter where the line is, there will be people on the other side.

    So his posturing is all a Big Lie, and those who support it are simply enabling the continued illegal ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories.  This isn't good for Israel, either.  The Likud plan, as explained in last week's NYTimes OpEd by the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Danny Danon, is to annex the West Bank, confine the Palestinians, as stateless non-citizens, in a few enclaves (the normal word for this is "ghetto"), and starve them out of existence.  This is not good for Israel.  It didn't work for South Africa either.

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