The ‘1967 lines’ factor


There’s a lot of back and forth about the significance of this line in President Obama’s speech yesterday:

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. 

Previous presidents have spoken about 1967 lines — what’s new here, and why is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly fuming?

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post breaks down why this is a significant shift in U.S. policy. Read the whole thing for a blow-by-blow account of what "1967" has meant to different administrations over the years. Here’s Kessler’s bottom line:

Obama’s statement Thursday represented a major shift. He did not articulate the 1967 boundaries as a “Palestinian goal” but as U.S. policy. He also dropped any reference to “realities on the ground” — code for Israeli settlements — that both Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton had used. He further suggested that Israel’s military would need to agree to leave the West Bank.

Eli Lake of the Washington Times boils down to two tweets the difference between George W. Bush’s letter in 2004 (not ’05, a slight error) and Obama’s speech yesterday:

Here is the key difference. W in 05 said: I don’t expect Israel to go back to the exact 67 lines — but Palestinians must agree to swaps.

Obama in ’11: Borders should be based on 1967 lines with land swaps. 

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