...we know clearly what Netanyahu will not do. He will not accept the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps as the basis for negotiations; he will not negotiate the future of east Jerusalem; he will not remove Israeli forces from the Jordan Valley, and he will not accept the return of any Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israel. He will not negotiate with the Palestinian leadership until the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement is abrogated. For all of these “no’s,” Netanyahu was treated like a rock star by our congressional leaders.
Netanyahu justified his refusal to accept the 1967 lines as the reference point for negotiations by describing them as “indefensible.” This is boilerplate language for Israeli prime ministers — especially Likud leaders. But it is worth noting that Israel fought two wars quite successfully, in 1956 and 1967, starting from precisely those borders.
The issue is not so much Israel’s ability to defend itself within the 1967 lines. It is that roughly a half million Israelis, with strong inducements from their government, have decided to live beyond those lines, and many, perhaps most, will have to return to pre-1967 Israel — if there is ever to be a viable two-state solution.
Oddly, Obama, who made such a big issue of Israeli settlement activity earlier, did not mention it this past week. But it does, in fact, continue to be one of the stubborn realities that complicate peace efforts.