Here’s an exchange between me and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney that I thought you might like to see.
In discussing President Obama’s decision to say Thursday that Mideast peace negotiations should begin with the assumption that Israel will return to the 1967 borders – give or take some land swaps – Carney yesterday sought to portray Obama’s statement as consistent with existing U.S. policy as outlined in a 2004 letter from George W. Bush to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Now, this letter wasn’t a “hey, my grandkids are great, how are yours?” type of note. It was official U.S. policy, stating that a return to the 1967 lines was not realistic and that the Palestinian’s “right of return” to Israel proper was null and void. In addition to apparently new policy on the borders, Obama said the right of return issue should be negotiated.
Here’s what Carney said early in the briefing;
I think, again, there is nothing that the President said yesterday that contradicts the 2004 letters that were exchanged between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon, or what Prime Minister Netanyahu said today in the Oval Office. We — the President said in his speech that a starting point for resolving the territorial issue is the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps and security for both nations.
Carney was using careful language – “nothing that . . contradicts the 2004 letters.” What I wanted to figure out was whether, in fact, the United States is now breaking with existing policy. So in the video below, I asked Carney if he would affirm previous U.S. policy. As you will see, he would not.