Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Israel Matzav: What Obama's going to say on Thursday night

What Obama's going to say on Thursday night

I have seen discussions of a summary of President Obama's speech for Thursday night. The speech (apparently there is also a complete copy floating around) has not been authenticated. I know where it came from and I know who has been tasked with authenticating it, but I cannot tell you that it's authentic. But it's authentic enough that someone at Yediot apparently got a hold of it and this is the result.

Obama is expected to urge Israel to return to the 1967 lines while negating the Palestinian Authority's planned unilateral bid for statehood in September.

According to the draft – which may change again by Thursday – Obama will call on Jerusalem and Ramallah to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying it is the only way to achieve viable peace.

Obama stands to demand the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and that the Palestinians unequivocally abandon terror.

He is also likely to stress Israel must cease any settlement expansion in the West Bank and further avoid any act which could be construed as changing the status quo on the ground.

The subject of Jerusalem also stands to be included in the American president's speech: Washington sees the city as the capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state, with its east Jerusalem neighborhoods – which are largely populated by Palestinians – under the PA's sovereignty, and its Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty.

Following Netanyahu's vehement speech before the Knesset plenum Sunday, it seems Washington has decided to lower its expectations of Netanyahu.

There's another version of the same article that was posted on ScribD, which was written by Shimon Shiffer and which I managed to get before it was apparently removed by the person who originally posted it. Here's the key passage:

According to one source exposed to talks among Netanyahu’s advisors ahead of the premier’s Friday meeting with the US president, Obama will define as illegal the settlements built in the territories after 1967. It is as yet unknown what will be Obama’s policy on the settlement blocs; in his speech on Monday Netanyahu noted he would demand that they remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Amidror and Arad tried to convince their interlocutors, headed by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, to change some of the planned formulations in the speech. The Israeli side claimed that Obama’s outline will not enable true negotiations, and is in essence an endorsement of the Arab approach. A senior US administration official told the Israelis that they have no reason to act like a “surprised virgin.

There are at least four major changes in US policy here: First, the 'settlements' are defined as 'illegal.' Only Jimmy Carter has done that. Second, the 'Palestinians' are assumed to have the right to all areas that were beyond the 1949 armistice lines. That was never US policy. Third, that the areas outside the 1949 armistice lines for which Israel will now be expected to 'compensate' the 'Palestinians' will include areas in 'east' Jerusalem. Fourth, the US has never called on Israel to return to the 1967 borders 1949 armistice lines.

For the record, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, who is mentioned in the passage above, denied that he attempted to get Obama to change the speech.

Amidror told Army Radio that he never "tried to convince anyone of anything" and that "only thing right about the report was mine and Uzi Arad's name. The issue of Obama's speech did not come up in the meeting with Danilone, and there was not even a hint about what the president [Obama] and the prime minister [Netanyahu] will say."

Recent reports in the media have claimed that Amidror's latest trip to Washington was designed to prepare officials for Netanyahu's speech to Congress, but Amidror said "This is a big mistake of the newspapers. The speeches are not a big issues for us. There are many issues which are important for the future of Israel and on these issues we focused."

The Yediot Ahronoth report claimed that from conversations between Amidror and his predecessor Uzi Arad, US President Barack Obama intends to call on Israel to return to 1967 borders in a speech he is expected to give Thursday.


Israel Matzav: What Obama's going to say on Thursday night

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