The line that the 2012 GOP hopefuls are going to take on Obama’s big speech on the Arab Spring is that he “threw Israel under the bus,” if Mitt Romney’s statement is any indication:
President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.
Romney’s statement doesn’t tell us how Obama did any of these things, so we’re left to assume that this is a reference to Obama’s comments today about the 1967 lines, which the right is jumping up and down about today.
Obama said: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Conservative media are widely treating this as if it’s a call for Israel to move back within 1967 borders and represents something overwhelmingly hostile to Israel. But virtually all observers of this process who actually know what they’re talking about are dismissing this as nonsense. As Jeffrey Goldberg explained:
This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what’s the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn’t think that the 1967 border won’t serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, hardly an Obama sycophant, also dismissed the right’s anger about this as “fake outrage”:
Note: He didn’t say “1967 borders,” he didn’t “side with the Palestinians,” and he absolutely did still insist on mutually agreed swaps and secure borders for both countries. It’s nothing but a rewording of the same position the US has taken for many years.
Indeed, the most credible argument I’ve seen out there today that this represents anything new actually comes from administation supporters. who want Obama’s speech to be seen as bold. Yet as Ben Smith notes, even they are implicitly acknowledging that the idea itself isn’t new — they claim that articulating it the way he did, Obama turned it from semi-official to official administration policy. What’s more, the whole notion of ”mutually agreed swaps” is so vague that Obama’s statement doesn’t really break new policy ground in any case.
But even if you accept that Obama’s articulation of this makes it new — which many observers are rejecting — it’s simply impossible to argue that it represents a major escalation of hostility towards Israel. No matter: Sarah Palin’s tweets making this case will be getting widespread media attention any second now.
UPDATE: Tim Pawlenty’s statement makes a similar suggestion, albeit in language far more restrained than Romney’s:
“President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand. The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen. At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”