Tuesday

6th Dec 2016

US takes EU line on Israel borders

  • Obama: 'Repression will fail, and tyrants will fall, and every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights' (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

US President Barack Obama has said future Israeli-Palestinian borders should be based on lines established before the 1967 war, bringing US policy closer in line with the EU position on the conflict.

Obama unveiled the new US policy at a speech in the state department in Washington on Thursday (19 May).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states," he said.

The US had in the past left open the question of final borders until the end-phase of Israeli-Palestinian talks, giving Israel the opportunity to keep on building settlements on occupied Palestinian land even as negotiations went on.

The new US position is in line with agreed EU policy, as formally stated by European foreign ministers in December. "The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. This could include agreed territorial swaps," the EU side said.

Israeli negotiators believe that a priori support for 1967 borders - also a key Palestinian demand - removes incentives for the Palestinians to negotiate on a host of issues.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a written reaction on Thursday said: "The 1967 lines are both indefensible and would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines ... The defence of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan river."

Israel also voiced concern that Obama said nothing on 'the right of return.'

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians want to take back land lost since the 1940s in what is today Israel in a development that would pose existential questions for the country as a 'Jewish state.'

On the pro-Israeli side, Obama indicated the US will work against Palestinian plans to seek full UN recognition of its statehood later this year.

"Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state," the US leader said. Palestinian diplomats recently told EUobserver that around 10 EU countries back the September initiative, including Greece, Ireland, France, Spain and Sweden.

Obama also took the pro-Israeli line on the new Fatah-Hamas unity government.

"How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?" he asked, referring to Hamas' 1980s-era charter, which calls for the "obliteration" of Israel. The EU for its part has opted to give the unity government a chance, stepping up financial aid and saying it should be judged by future actions not past words.

Obama did not take the EU and Palestinian position that East Jerusalem should be shared between the two parties to the conflict, saying the sensitive question is better left for later down the line.

He placed strong emphasis on Israeli rather than Palestinian "security" and "rights."

And he did not include the Palestinian population under occupation and in exile in his list of Arab spring peoples seeking "dignity" and "self-determination", mentioning instead Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICESI Congress Focuses on Future of Work, Public Services and Digitalisation
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)