Israeli PM Rejects Obama's Vision for Mideast

By: CBS/Associated Press
By: CBS/Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Israel's prime minister gave a cool reception to President Obama's Mideast policy speech, warning that a withdrawal from the West Bank would leave Israel vulnerable to attack and setting up what could be a tense meeting Friday at the White House.

In his speech, Obama endorsed the Palestinian position on the borders of their future state, saying it should be based on Israel's lines before the 1967 Mideast war. Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the fighting, and the Palestinians claim those areas for their state

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas planned to convene a meeting with senior officials as soon as possible to decide on the next steps, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Abbas is determined "to give President Obama's effort and that of the international community the chance they deserve," Erekat said.

The U.S., the international community and even past Israeli governments have endorsed a settlement based on the 1967 lines, but Obama was far more explicit than in the past. His position appeared to put him at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not accepted the concept.

Reacting to Obama's speech, Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a full withdrawal from the West Bank, saying the 1967 lines were "indefensible" and would leave major Jewish settlements outside Israel. Netanyahu rejects any pullout from east Jerusalem.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that, just to drive the point home, the Israelis announced Thursday that they plan to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. The U.S. has demanded that settlement construction stop.

Netanyahu heads to the White House on Friday to seek what he called clarifications after Mr. Obama's speech. The two men will have "plenty to talk about today," notes Plante, adding that the atmosphere in the room is likely to be "chilly," at best.

Behind the rhetoric, though, was the possibility of finding common ground. Obama said he would support agreed-upon territorial swaps between the Israel and the Palestinians, leaving the door open for Israel to retain major West Bank settlements, where the vast majority of its nearly 300,000 Jewish settlers live.

Netanyahu said he would urge Obama to endorse a 2004 American commitment, made by then President George W. Bush, to Israel. In a letter at the time, Bush said a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines was "unrealistic" and a future peace agreement would have to recognize "new realities on the ground."

Israelis have interpreted Bush's commitment as U.S. support for retaining the major settlement blocs. Earlier this week, Netanyahu said Israel would have to retain the blocs as part of any future peace agreement.

But Netanyahu also wants to keep other parts of the West Bank, including a strategic section of land along the Jordanian border that he believes is vital to Israel's security. The Palestinians oppose any Israeli presence in their future state.

Netanyahu said he would reiterate his security demands at Friday's meeting.

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  • by citizen on May 22, 2011 at 06:28 AM
    Obama needs to worry about unemployment, high gas prices, runaway debt,the value of the dollar, and many other problems here at home. Thats God's land and people and the US needs to stay out of Israel's affairs. Israel is surrounded by a billion people that hate them so they do what they have to do to protect themselves. We need to support them not oppose them. If you support Israel you will be blessed but you oppose them you get cursed by the Master. The US has to many irons in the fire now and no money to support the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at hand with a $14 trillion dollar debt hanging overhead.
  • by Anonymous on May 20, 2011 at 09:28 AM
    Barry Soetoro is a Paper bag puppet with a dirty hand up his spincter flapping his jaws while someone else is doing the talking. He needs to be inflated and popped. This is a joke on people.
  • by One Eye on May 20, 2011 at 09:00 AM
    Israel Bombed us already once. These Globalist/Big Business war mongers have put the USA and it's people in harms way all over the planet!! hundreds of bases in scores of countries. Wake Up . We've allowed this to go on with open blind eyes. Staring like zombies right past the truth. Working your 9-5, caught up in a life designed to keep you out of the loop of your civic duty and the truth. Football Baseball Race Cars Church, Caught up in the opiate of the masses and taught that that's the way life should be. Bland Followers of the Faith. Told what holidays to celebrate and what days to give thanks just like everyone else. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.
  • by Ed Location: Tallahassee on May 20, 2011 at 08:47 AM
    It is time to end the 20 to 100 billion dollars of hand outs we give Israel every year.
  • by Let them deal with it on May 20, 2011 at 07:29 AM
    I am tired of the US getting involved with Israel. If they have problems, let them deal with it. If they can't, then so be it. We have no business intervening. They have just as much right to the land as the Palestinians. If we backed off we would be the subject of a lot less hate from the world. Israel plays everyone. Let them defend themselves.
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