Jeffrey Goldberg is expressing himself underwhelmed by the President’s call for Israel to revert to the 1948 armistice lines plus land swaps, stating that there’s “nothing new” in the the policy for either the administration or the United States. On the former issue he links to a 2009 statement by Secretary of State Clinton, and on the latter he gestures toward White House positions going back “at least 12 years.” Skepticism over whether the President’s position on borders represent anything new is certainly not limited to the center-left, but Goldberg’s post is admirably explicit and precise in laying out the issues.
The two issues – continuity going back to previous administrations and continuity with Obama administration policy – should be taken on their own. But just preliminarily, it’s worth noting that they very clearly can’t both be true. It’s one or the other or neither, but not both. The entire point of Obama’s 2009 diplomatic offensive against Israel, the one being described by Secretary Clinton, the one that involved abandoning previous U.S. assurances on “defensible borders,” was that it was a radical break from previous American diplomacy. For the first time ever there was going to be daylight between the United States and Israel. Disagreements would be aired in public. It was a “sea change.”
So — and not to belabor the point — the President’s position today was either a return to the policies of previous administrations (it wasn’t) or it was a continuation of this White House’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking (yes). Read More