Sometimes I get the impression with President Obama that his wishes and plans steam forward in one lane, while reality marches along in another altogether separate one.
We see this, for example, on the budget deficit, where the president notes the peril it poses, and then goes right ahead and throws around billions in “emergency” stimulus money that take years to dole out. Or adds a trillion dollars in new spending to make his health care dream a reality.
And we saw it again today, in Obama’s latest Middle East Big Think speech.
Despite the coming new regime in the Palestinian Authority, which will include Hamas, Obama has gone along his merry way and made a key concession to the Palestinians, as if Israel’s peril had some how lessened rather than grown.
By making it U.S. policy that the 1967 borders are the STARTING POINT for negotiations, Obama put Israel on the defensive in its fight for security and for its cultural – and the Christian cultural – heritage in Jerusalem.
The statement overturns assurances by George W. Bush to Israel in a 2004 letter that stated a return to the 1967 borders was in fact NOT the policy of the United States. This assurance was made in return for a concrete step, the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza. The concrete step cannot be reversed. The assurance could be reversed by an unreliable ally. Today, it was.
It was a DEAL. A deal is a deal, right? Wrong.
Obama today said the status of Jerusalem is up for grabs. But by declaring as the starting point the 1967 border – under which the Old City portion of Jerusalem and its holy sites were in Arab hands – Israel now has to give concessions to keep Jerusalem whole, not get concessions in return for giving it away. And as a practical matter, putting Old City Jerusalem in the hands of the Palestinians at the start of the negotiations means they will never relinquish it.
How well the Arabs will protect Jewish and Christian holy sites there is anyone’s guess.
And by the way, go to Google and take a look at a map of the 1967 borders. It doesn’t take some kind of Napoleonic military genius to figure out that the borders are completely indefensible. Israel, again, will have to bargain from a position of weakness – the ’67 borders – to “swap,” as Obama put it, enough of its land for West Bank land to find a marginally secure arrangement of territory.
Look at what the Gaza giveaway has gotten Israel. Missiles regularly lobbed deep into its territory and a funnel for terrorists and arms. What will happen when it releases the West Bank?
The Palestinians don’t want the West Bank. They want it all. They want Tel Aviv. The West Bank will be a ballast used for pushing the Jews into the sea.
Sure, Obama says the Palestinians will have to find a way to reassure Israel with Hamas now at the table. And he promises Israel secure borders. But these are nebulous words, negotiable stuff. The 1967 borders line he read today is policy.
Hamas, if it is smart, will head over to Men’s Warehouse, pick up a few suits, and act civilized for a few months. That should be enough to convince the president – who came into office thinking he could negotiate with various barbarians around the globe – that they are reasonable people.
But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu knows his enemies better. He’s already rejecting Obama’s new policy, issuing a statement as he prepared to meet with Obama Friday
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 [settlements] in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] beyond those lines.
Hamas is headed into the Palestinian government. Palestinians over the weekend stormed Israel’s borders. But Obama keeps rolling along own path. Reality travels a separate road.