Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a tough response to President Obama’s speech, indicating that his Washington visit next week could get interesting. While Netanyahu said he “appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” he added that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.”
The first of these commitments is “Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines.” Obama left some wiggle room on that issue today, saying that a two-state deal would have to be based on the 1967 lines “with land swaps.” Since Obama’s statement has been interpreted in many different ways, Netanyahu is rightly demanding that the president clarify his position.
The prime minister added that Obama needs to assert that “Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel,” and state explicitly that Palestinians must “recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”
Obama will have a perfect venue to reaffirm these commitments during his speech to AIPAC on Sunday morning. And if he neglects to do so, Netanyahu will then have an excellent forum to respond when he speaks before a joint session of congress next week.