Today President Obama stunned the world by saying this:
The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
The New York Times reports that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reacted icily.” The American right wing, by contrast, has been sent into a near frenzy. You’d think it was the end of the world.
This is one of the reasons why the Israel-Palestine issue is so difficult to deal with for those of us who haven’t followed its every nuance for the past 30 years. I mean, this has been the basis of every peace negotiation in the Middle East for the past three decades, hasn’t it? Most recently it was the basis of Wye River, Camp David, and Taba. Whether it was stated in precisely that way or not, every proposed deal has involved two states, with borders to be negotiated based on the facts on the ground that Israel has so assiduously built up since 1967. In other words, “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
And yet, for some reason, actually saying what’s been obvious for decades sends everyone into a tizzy. All because of some minuscule change in wording that, to ordinary ears, means nothing.
Somebody help me out here. Pretend I’m five years old and you have to explain things in words of one syllable. Why is Obama’s formulation worthy of anything more than a yawn, let alone widespread outrage?