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Sunday
May222011

Obama Seeks to Clarify Mid-East Borders Remarks

ABC News (File)(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama went to the American pro-Israel lobby on Sunday to reaffirm America's commitment to Israel’s security, and to try to clear up the controversy caused by remarks he made earlier in the week over the starting point for a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama set off a firestorm and clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he said on Thursday that the U.S. believes the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with mutually-agreed land swaps, should be the basis for negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Sunday the president said that he thinks controversy over his comments erupted because his position has been misrepresented.

"Let me reaffirm what '1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps' means," he said.

"By definition, it means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation."

Obama said the negotiation would allow for both the Israelis and Palestinians to account for new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides with the ultimate goal of two states for both the Israelis and Palestinians.

"If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance," said Obama. "What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately."

Israel will face growing isolation without a credible peace process, Obama said, and the march to isolate Israel internationally and the Palestinians impulse to abandon negotiations will continue to gain momentum without a credible peace process.

"For us to have leverage with the Palestinians, with the Arab States, and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success," he said.

Much of the president’s speech focused on assuring the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee that his administration has made Israel’s security a priority.

"It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels.  It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies.  And it’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels," said Obama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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