Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obama's Middle East Foreign Policy is More of the Same Old Stuff

Last week, President Barack Obama gave a major address on the Middle East. Today, he gave a speech before the pro-Israel lobbying group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

After listening to both speeches, I am convinced that Obama is not offering a new approach to the Middle East crisis. It is just the same old stuff that has been presented by previous U.S. administrations. There is no fundamental change in American foreign policy.

During his speech before AIPAC, the President reaffirmed his call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders. As reported in the New York Times, the President stated:

“There was nothing particularly original in my proposal. This basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.”

Obama went on to essentially backtrack clarify his position by stating that the Israelis and Palestinians "will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967." Maybe I am missing something, but that sounds like double talk to me.

Unfortunately, as many pundits have stated, the President's call for a return to the 1967 borders may merely be a ploy to provide the U.S. with cover to oppose an upcoming U.N. vote to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

In addition, Obama's "unshakable" and unconditional support for Israel is troubling. To prove his devotion to Israel, Obama touted his Administration's withdrawal from the Durban Review Conference, opposition to the Goldstone Report and veto of the U.N. resolution condemning illegal settlements.  Instead of being proud of its position on those issues, the Obama Administration should be ashamed for taking such reactionary positions. 

During last week's Middle East address, the President stated that the U.S. would veto any resolution recognizing Palestine as an independent and sovereign state.  Apparently, Obama plans to continue America's long history of vetoing numerous U.N. resolutions pertaining to Israel. This is no surprise given the fact that he bended over backwards to placate AIPAC during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. How much tap dancing does Obama have to do to prove that he is down with Israel?

Despite all those efforts to appease the pro-Israel lobby, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and company are still displeased with President Obama. As reported in the New York Times,

"Most significant among his public objections, Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a return to the boundaries that existed before the war in 1967 gave it control of the West Bank and Gaza, calling them indefensible."

Netanyahu should not slam the President for saying what has long been the position of previous administrations. Israel owes it very existence to the U.S. Netanyahu should show some freaking gratitude.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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