Mixed Message: Right Attacks Obama For Both "Flip-Flop[ping]" And "Doubl[ing] Down" On Israel

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

The right-wing media have reacted to President Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by complaining either he "flip-flop[ped]" or "double[d] down" on his previous comments or both. However, in his speech to AIPAC, Obama simply reiterated his earlier call that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

In Two Different Speeches, Obama Calls For Two-State Israel, Palestine Solution "Based On" 1967 Borders "With Mutually Agreed Swaps"

May 19: Obama Calls For "A Viable Palestine, A Secure Israel" "Based On The 1967 Lines With Mutually Agreed Swaps." From Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East and North Africa:

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe 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 Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -- by itself -- against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I'm aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. [Remarks by Obama on the Middle East and North Africa, 5/19/11]

May 22: Obama Repeats That "The Borders Of Israel And Palestine Should Be Based On The 1967 Lines With Mutually Agreed Swaps." From Obama's remarks at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011:

There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations. Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday -- not what I was reported to have said.

I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps -- (applause) -- so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -- by itself -- against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.) Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines -- with mutually agreed swaps -- that received the lion's share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what "1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" means.

By definition, it means that the parties themselves -- Israelis and Palestinians -- will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That's what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people -- (applause) -- and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people -- each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)

If there is a controversy, then, it's not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I've done so because we can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. (Applause.) The world is moving too fast. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel's security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve. [Whitehouse.gov, Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference, 5/22/11]

But Right-Wing Media Claim Obama "Flip-Flop[ped]" On 1967 Borders...

Ace Of Spades: Obama "Walked Back Or Clarified His Stance." A May 22 post on the conservative blog Ace of Spades claimed:

There was a lot of confusion on Thursday about whether Obama's reference to "67 borders with mutually agreed upon swaps" was news or not. A lot of pro-Israel folks on Twitter (but granted not all) didn't seem to think it was a big deal at the time.

[...]

Now, he's walked back or clarified his stance (depending on your point of view). The anti-Israeli left will say "the Jews got to him". Many on the right will say, "Bibi got him".

I think the fact is, reality got him.

[...]

Just a reminder...Obama has a history of flip-flopping and pandering on this stuff in front of AIPAC. [Ace of Spades, 5/22/11]

The Blaze: Obama Is "Now Tell[ing] Jewish Audience That Border With Palestine Would Be 'Different' Than 1967." A May 22 post on The Blaze suggested that, in his AIPAC speech, Obama changed position on where to begin border negotiations by claiming he was "now tell[ing]" a "Jewish audience that [the] border with Palestine would be 'different' than" the 1967 lines. [The Blaze, 5/22/11]

...While Others Attack Him For "Doubl[ing] Down"...

Hoft: "Obama Doubles Down: Pushes 1967 Border Plan At AIPAC 2011." In a May 22 post on Gateway Pundit, blogger Jim Hoft wrote: "Far left President Barack Obama spoke today at AIPAC 2011. He doubled down on his plan to push 1967 borders on Israel essentially turning over the Holy Land to the Hamas-Fatah terror alliance." [Gateway Pundit, 5/22/11]

Ross: "Obama Double[d] Down" At AIPAC. In a May 22 post on his blog titled, "Obama doubles down: Israel needs to adopt 1967 borders, split itself into two pieces and accept a contiguous Palestinian state," conservative blogger Doug Ross wrote: "Speaking at AIPAC this morning, President Barack Obama reiterated his call for a 'sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state' using '1967 borders with mutually-agreed upon swaps'." Beneath a map of Israel, the Gaza strip, and the West Bank, Ross continued: "This current map illustrates the idiocy of such a plan. To join Gaza with the West Bank would require splitting Israel into two pieces. That ain't gonna happen. So President Obama just doubled-down on an absolutely nonsensical proposal." [Doug Ross, 5/22/11]

Rubin: Obama "Doubled Down, Making This Upcoming Presidential Election A Time For Choosing For Friends Of Israel." In a May 22 post, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin claimed: "President Obama took nothing back from his foreign policy speech on Thursday and blamed the press for any controversy. He doubled down, making this upcoming presidential election a time for choosing for friends of Israel." [Washington Post, 5/22/11]

And Geller Absurdly Attacks Obama Both For "Flip-Flop[ping]" And "Doubl[ing] Down"

Geller: "Obama Managed To Double Down And Backpedal At The Same Time." In a May 22 post on Atlas Shrugs, Pamela Geller claimed: "In a rare, useless skill set mastered by our clumsy President, Obama managed to double down and backpedal at the same time. He tried to softshoe the '67 borders remark by focusing instead on the caveat of mutually agreed-upon swaps. He admonished us for taking him the wrong way. I kid you not." [Atlas Shrugs, 5/22/11]

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