Let's give credit where credit is due; President Obama's speech yesterday at the State Department where he said Israel must use the 1967 borders as the starting point of negotiations with the Palestinian's was right on the mark.
Those borders were established in the original U.N. mandate establishing the State of Israel in 1948. They are recognized internationally by all other states as the legitimate borders of Israel. Only Israel objects to returning to those borders as readily apparent in remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (upon hearing and reacting to the Obama speech) which he described as "indefensible".
Yet those borders are the only legitimate starting point for negotiations with the Palestinian's for any peace settlement to take place.
Today, Netanyahu meets with Obama at the White House. Obama must not backslide in any way from the position he took in his speech (particularly regarding the 1967 borders). Netanyahu and the Israeli's may vociferously object to Obama's stated position but they must be persuaded to eventually come around to accepting the fact that they are illegal occupiers of the West Bank, their settlements and expansion of such are illegal, their siege of Gaza is a violation and must end, their retention of the Syrian Golan Heights is illegal, the ultimate final disposition of Jerusalem needs to be negotiated as well as the plight of the refugees that were displaced in the original partition and establishment of the country in 1948 must all be negotiated if there is ever going to be a lasting peace.
But the "kicker" is this; for Obama's words to have the impact of bringing real negotiations, they must have "teeth" behind them.
We provide billions in foreign and military aid to Israel, by far more than any other nation. From here, our aid and support to Israel needs to be predicated on their accepting those 1967 borders. Of course nothing on the order of this magnitude was stated or implied in Obama's speech but for his words to have real meaning they must have "teeth" (our aid to Israel) being contingent on their accepting the 1967 borders.
It is fully recognized that Obama will undoubtedly come under enormous pressure to recant coming not only from Israel but from the extreme, hard Jewish right in the U.S. i.e. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the U.S. Congress that for the most part have been knee jerk supporters of Israel (beholden as they are to their campaigns being underwritten by AIPAC backed [though indirect] contributions and their fear of being labeled as anti-Semitic if they directly criticized Israel for its policies vis-Ã-vis the Palestinians).
For Obama's words to be more than rhetoric, (where he raised hopes only to see them dashed), there can be no half measures in pressing Israel. The Palestinian's have never been the key to negotiations. That has always rested with the Israeli's.
Only the U.S. is capable of bringing Israel to its senses and getting them to negotiate with the 1967 borders as the starting point.
Obama set the tone yesterday, but the question remains is he committed to take his words all the way and put "teeth" in them?