Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quick Take on Obama Speech - and Reactions

In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Obama's Middle East speech (full text here), what seems to be drawing attention is his assertion that Israeli-Palestinian settlement must be based on 1967 borders, with agreed-upon swaps.  One Likud MK has already denounced this; and a bulletin indicates that Netanyahu has declared that those borders are "indefensible."  I'll be eager to see his full reaction, and whether or not he leaves some room for hedging.  Mollifying  his political coalition will require him to reject outwardly the 1967 borders.  If he sincerely intends to stick by that though, then Obama may be in for a rude reception at AIPAC meetings in a few days - and Netanyahu may feel some need to push back when he addresses Congress days from now.  It will be interesting - perhaps telling - to see how hard he pushes back, and what kind of response he gets.  Remember, international law and countless UN resolutions are on Obama's side.

Also of note: that Obama made scant mention of Iran.  One of Netanyahu's biggest bullet-points, for many months, has been to pound the Iran = Germany 1938 = existential threat nail.  But on Iran, Obama went with nothing heavier than a staple-gun, as opposed to Bibi's sledge-hammer.  Again, will the congressmen bought or intimidated by AIPAC throw that back at Obama?

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