Reid Breaks With Obama On Israel


reidBreaking with President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday urged a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without preconditions regarding borders.

Obama, in recent days, has proposed that Israel’s 1967 boundaries be the “foundation” for relaunching the stalled negotiations.

But Reid rejected that strategy Monday night, saying any such preconditions would be “premature.”

“The parties that should lead those negotiations must be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else,” Reid told thousands of pro-Israel activists gathered in Washington for the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“The place where negotiating will happen must be the negotiating table – and nowhere else. Those negotiations will not happen – and their terms will not be set – through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media.

“No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building or about anything else,” Reid added, bringing the audience to its feet for the first time during the speech.

Obama last week made international headlines when he suggested that the basis for talks over a Palestinian state be Israel’s 1967 borders, which were expanded during the Six Day War of the same year and have since been settled by thousands of Israelis.

The president emphasized that the two sides would have to work out land swaps – meaning his proposal is not a call for the 1967 borders to be the final lines.

“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,” he said. “That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.”

Still, Israeli leaders pushed back immediately, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the 1967 borders wouldn’t provide the real estate the country needs to protect itself from attacks launched from the Palestinian territories.

“For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities,” Netanyahu said at a press briefing with Obama Friday. “The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines.”

{The Hill/ Newscenter}


  1. Everyone knows that Congress has more room for rhetoric than a president does because they arent involved with diplomacy.

    What is relevant is that Reid said what Obama said without talking about what he thinks about Abbas’ proponents.

    What is truly relevant is that Bush
    created the roadmap which for the first time in writing foreign policy demanded complete stop to natural growth of current settlements.

    Secondly, Bush and Olmert cut a deal and offered Abbas in 2008 for all of the West Bank and the Arab Parts of East Jerusalem along with an internationalizing of the “Holy Sites” in Jerusalem.
    this is recorded in George Bush’s published memoirs Decisions Points and in Olmert’s interviews
    Olmert says that on August 31, 2008, three weeks before he resigned, he offered 100 percent of West Bank land (minus 6.8% in land swaps), 10,000 Palestinian refugees returning to Israel’s final borders, and the holy basin of Jerusalem’s Old City coming under joint Israeli-Palestinian-American- Jordanian-Saudi control. He last met with Abbas on September 16 of that year – five days before he resigned, and more than six months before he left office – and Abbas did not respond or make a counteroffer.”

    Finally, to remember, that 7 months before the deal was cut Bush and Rice put the nails to Olmert: Jer. Post Jan. 8, 2008: “On the eve of US President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel and the region, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice placed the issue of settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem at center stage, Condi Rice telling The Jerusalem Post “Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning.” Condi Rice also said “ …The United States doesn’t make a distinction between settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank and Israel’s road map obligations which include a complete building freeze relate to settlement activity generally.”

    Regarding the 2004 Bush letter sent in 2004 as “payment” to the Ariel Sharon for his Disengagement from Gaza Condi Rice described the letter as “the president’s acknowledgement that these changes have taken place and have to be accommodated. This president also said it needs to be mutually agreed [upon]. So the negotiation, the agreement itself, will finally resolve these issues, and we can stop having the discussion about what’s a settlement and what isn’t.”

    And Obama didn’t go further than Bush when he said
    “The basis for negotiations will be looking at that 1967 border recognizing that the conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides, that’s on the one hand. On the other hand, this was an equally important part of the speech, Israel’s going to have to feel confident about its security on the WB and that security element is going to be important to the Israeli’s. They will not be able to move forward unless they feel that they themselves can defend their territory particularly given what they’ve seen happen in Gaza and the rockets that have been fired by Hezbollah.”

    and Jay Carney the press secretary said the same day, “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,” ( from

  2. George Orwell: Since Abbas refused the Bush-Olmert offer, why would he agree now, especially since he has leverage with the UN and international community this coming september? Obama now offered more Israeli concessions to Abbas by declaring US policy that borders should be based on ’67’, so that this can be starting point for Abbas, and he can negotiate to obtain till ’49’ armistice lines, like he stubbornly believes he will eventually get. Abbas will not agree to negotiate unless he can be offered more than was offered to him in the past. This is Obama’s intiative.

    And unlike Bush who stated that negotiations on borders should include refugee issue; Obama declared that refugees should be discussed after territorial negotiations are concluded; thereby giving Abbas an upper hand to extract bigger concesssions from Israel on refugee issue. All this in order to convince Abbas to come back to negotiating table which he has refused to do in the past, and abandon UN vote in september.

  3. George Bush was a Christian Zionist and was viewed as a friend of Israel. Obama is a talmid of Jeremiah Wright and has been antagonistic to Israel and snubbed Bibi.

  4. #3’s comment is crucial. Besides which, Bush stated explicitly that he supported Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that any State of Israel would include the major settlement blocs, and that those were non negotiable. Obama said no such thing on either count.

    And again, as I have said before: We can’t expect the President of the U.S. to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli P.M. Olmert and Barak – especially the former, whom George F. Will called the worst leader any country ever had – were leftist pushovers.