Entries in Palestinian (3)


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


King Abdullah and George Mitchell: Tough Road for Mid-East Peace

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- King Abdullah II of Jordan, a key American ally and advocate of the Middle East peace process, says he does not have much hope for progress on negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the coming months.

"My instincts tell me not to expect much over the next couple of months, unfortunately," King Abdullah said in an exclusive interview with " ABC’s This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour." "I just have a feeling that we're going to be living with the status quo for 2011."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently visiting the United States, where he met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday, before addressing a joint session of Congress next Tuesday. Netanyahu spoke strongly against President Obama's Thursday address in which he publicly called for the pre-1967 borders of Israel to serve as the starting point for future peace negotiations.

Abdullah said the current realities on the ground leave him pessimistic, including Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

"When he speaks to me, I see his vision of peace with the Palestinians, peace with the Arabs and I've always left those meetings feeling very optimistic," Abdullah said of his discussions with Netanyahu. "But unfortunately, the circumstances that we've seen on the ground for the past two years does not fill me with much hope."

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who resigned this month as President Obama's envoy to the Middle East after serving two years, said that while President Obama's comments on the 1967 borders were "a significant statement," they do not signal a major shift in policy, especially when land swaps are considered.

"The president didn't say that Israel has to go back to the '67 lines. He said with agreed swaps," Mitchell told Amanpour. "Swaps means an exchange of land intended to accommodate major Israeli population centers to be incorporated into Israel and Israel's security needs. Agreed means through negotiations. Both parties must agree."

While Mitchell said "it's indisputable that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked," he said he maintains a positive outlook if both sides are willing to negotiate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mideast Peace Envoy George Mitchell Resigning

George Mitchell (L) speaks with a Palestinian Authority member during a 2009 meeting between President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)(WASHINGTON) -- Former Sen. George Mitchell is stepping down as U.S. special envoy for Mideast peace, according to an administration official. The White House was expected to announce Mitchell’s departure Friday. The official said Mitchell is leaving for “personal reasons.”

His resignation comes just a week before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Washington and is expected to present new ideas on how to break jammed negotiations with the Palestinians. The process hit a new snag in recent weeks when the Palestinian Authority struck a deal with rival Hamas, which has refused to renounce violence against Israel.

After 18 months of shuttle diplomacy by Mitchell and others, the Obama administration finally launched talks between Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in early September and pledged to have a framework deal within a year. Just weeks later the talks fell apart over a dispute about settlements in the West Bank, and months later the administration abandoned the effort but maintained it could get some sort of agreement within that same year timeline.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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