The most striking statement in US President Barack Obama’s speech on “the Arab Spring” was his appeal to Israel to return to the borders of 1967, in other words to abandon control over the occupied Palestinian territories. “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”, Obama said.The Gaza Strip and West Bank of the Jordan River have been occupied by Israel since the times of Yom Kippur war of 1967. Since then about 300,000 Israeli people have settled down on West Bank. The fight for the establishment of the Palestinian state and the liberation of the Palestinian territories has brought no result.
Before Obama none of the US presidents has made such an unambiguous statement on the issue. Some of the Republican senators immediately said that Obama’s proposal was “betrayal”… Israel’s supporters held demonstrations in Washington criticizing the president.
In their turn, the supporters of the US administration’s policy said that previous presidents had also consider the return to the borders of 1967 in one form or the other and Obama did not say anything completely new.Their opponents replied that none of the US presidents had said it so decisively and that Obama had not warned Israeli people in advance and made his speech on the eve of Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.Israel’s supporters held demonstrations in front of the general consulate in New York crying out slogan “Obama must quit!"
The reaction came also from US businessmen. Even before Obama made his speech Wall Street Journal wrote that a number of American Jews who had collected money for the election campaign of senator Obama in 2008 have warned the White House that Obama’s approach to Israel and the borders of 1967 may cost him financial support at the coming elections in 2012 ….
Though American Jews account for only 2% of the electorate there are generous sponsors of presidential candidates among them.In 2008, Obama received 78% of Jewish votes and the lion’s share of the Jewish donations.Now, according to McLaughlin & Associatespoll, 46% of the US Jews are thinking of voting for someone else at the next elections.
The Israeli Prime Minister did not like the proposal of the US president. He said Israel can’t return to indefensible 1967 border lines and the sovereign Palestinian state should be established in the prejudice of the only Jewish state. In his turn the head of the Palestinian autonomy Mahmoud Abbas thanked Obama for his efforts aimed at the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks, which broke down in a deadlock last year.
Thus, “a breakthrough initiative” has been defined. What’s next? Why has the noise grown silent? Why is nothing being done? Will the dialogue between Washington and Tel-Aviv begin? And if not why making so much noise and what stands behind it?
When Obama ran for presidency he was invited to the Council on the International relations, one of the most influential decision making centers in the US in which the representatives of the Jewish community (Henri Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and heads of the biggest Jewish banks) have strong positions.
During his first two years as the US president Obama never disappointed the influential members of the Council. It is not for nothing that he was called the Afro-American edition of George Bush Jr. Regardless of his image of a peacekeeper and protector of human rights the former governor of Illinois did not make any single step which could impinge upon the interests of the forces which are ruling the global super power behind the stage. It is to their interests he is taking part in the Libyan “adventure” and lobbying the idea of the US ABM system in Europe ignoring Moscow’s arguments.
That is why there is no reason to expect Obama’s words on the borders of 1967 will open a new chapter of the US policy in the Middle East. Obama has always been generous for words. In the first days of his presidency he promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but it is still open and the conditions of imprisonment there are still inhuman.
Presumably, Obama’s statement on 1967 borders won’t have any consequences for Israel will give the Gaza Strip back and free West Bank of the Jordan River only under very strong pressure or if the global community forces it to do so. But this is out of the question. Even if Obama wanted to win over the Israeli lobby in the US and the Israeli government he could not do it. But he did not want it.
Why did he make such a striking statement? By presenting himself as an independent non-pro-Israeli participant of the Arab-Israeli dialogue Obama wants to win sympathies of Palestinians. Why?
Now Washington is trying to push the Syrian president Bashar Assad to the wall. If the US succeeds Assad will have to the last mean of protection and to turn to Palestinian militant groups. These are active well-armed groups capable of making serious military strikes. That is why before attacking Syria it is necessary to buy Palestinians. It is almost impossible to overthrow Assad and to change the regime in Syria without neutralizing Palestinian organizations including the Hizballah movement. That is why Obama is choosing for “friendship” with Palestinians ignoring the reaction of Tel-Aviv.
Now Israel observes the Arab revolution. Obama’s statement on 1967 border is also in the sphere of interests of Israel. Showing “carrot” to Palestinian organizations inviting them to take active part in the situation which will be only aggravating is a forward-looking policy. It will also improve the image of the US in the world of Islam. But the other question is thing – will Palestinians believe Obama? Now they are waiting for specific steps from Washington but this period won’t last long. Saying “а” the US president should say “b”. Palestinians have such strong distrust of the US that Obama can reach a positive effect only by taking specific and practical steps. But there won’t be real changes in the US policy in the Middle East. It has not been planned.