Moving the goalposts on Palestinian statehood

Republican lawmakers and some pro-Israel groups are in an snit about President Obama’s call for Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations, with the starting point being the 1967 borders – with negotiated land swaps.

Is what they’re saying that there should never be a real Palestinian state? Because if you reject the idea of starting with the 67 borders and negotiating from there, that may be what you’re advocating, intentionally or not.

Starting from the ’67 borders, with appropriate land swaps, has been the underlying assumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from the beginning and the position of every recent Israeli government , along with the idea that the “final status” issues to be negotiated include Jerusalem and refugees.

Now, you’re branded anti-Israel if you say the exact status of Jerusalem must be worked out between the parties, or that the Palestinian refugee issue must be addressed (rather than rejected from the outset), or that the 1967 borders, with negotiated land swaps, should be the basis of negotiations.

What the people advocating these positions don’t say is that the inevitable bottom line of their argument is that Israel must keep so much West Bank land that there cannot possibly be a viable Palestinian state.

That, in essence, is what pro-Israel groups are arguing for – whether they mean it or not – when they lash out at President Obama’s position on the negotiations, and that’s what members of Congress are basically advocating when they join the attack.

The goal posts have been moved by those Israeli leaders and their friends here who oppose creation of a Palestinian state – period. Even as they argue for conditions that make a real Palestinian state all but impossible, they insist they support a two-state solution.

Maybe it’s time those taking this position are a little more up front about exactly what it is they are advocating.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.