May 20, 2011
Obama to BBC: ‘Conditions on the ground have changed’
President Obama has elaborated upon his call for the 1967 lines to serve as the basis for a Palestinian state’s border in an interview with the BBC.
“The basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides,” Obama told the BBC Thursday in an interview following his Middle East policy speech.
“Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank, and that security element is going to be important to the Israelis,” Obama added. “They will not be able to move forward unless they feel that they themselves can defend their territory, particularly given what they’ve seen happen in Gaza and the rockets that have been fired by Hezbollah.”
In his speech, Obama had said that the borders of a Palestinian state “should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded with a statement calling the 1967 lines “indefensible” for Israel.
Netanyahu’s statement called on Obama to reaffirm a 2004 assurance from President George W. Bush, who had said that the outcome of any negotiations should involve “mutually agreed changes” to the 1967 lines in order to reflect “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers.”
Obama also discussed with the BBC the suggestion in his speech that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations first address issues of security and borders before tackling Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee issue.
“Our argument is let’s get started on a conversation about territory and about security,” he said. “If we make progress on what two states would look like and a reality sets in among the parties, that this is how it is going to end up, then it becomes easier for both sides to make difficult concessions to resolve those two other issues.”
The BBC will air the full interview on Sunday.