At an annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday, Israel's staunchest American supporters were paid a visit by President Obama, Reuters reported
, and the president sought to further explain his administration's position on the need for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.
The matter is a delicate one, as Israel's supportive lobbyists believe as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does, that the pre-1967 borders are not defensible.
Protesters in Israel
have made their disagreements with President Obama clear, expressed in signs that read "Israel Won't Commit Suicide" and "Israel Can't Be Divided" and "Obama Change Your Mind," as the Jerusalem Post
President Obama is the first American president to publicly support a return to Israel's pre-1967 borders.
Obama's sweeping Middle East address last Thursday was delivered at a time of considerable upheaval throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Of key concern to policymakers in both the US and Israel is the populist democratic revolution unfolding in Egypt, where a decidedly pro-Palestinian populace is a new driving force in the region.
In President Obama's presentation on Sunday, a soothing and pragmatic tone was established. Mr. Obama discussed the land-swap position, saying that the new borders would be negotiated to accommodate the "new demographic realities on the ground." Many large Jewish population centers reside outside of the pre-1967 borders, and Obama's comments suggest that some Jewish settlements could remain.
The dispute between Israel and the Obama administration also threatens to stall the peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors. But, after hearing President Obama's Sunday speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a supportive statement.
"I am determined to work together with President Obama to find ways to resume the peace negotiations," Netanyahu said, according to Reuters.