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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her part, called the zoning board’s announcement “an insult to the United States” and telephoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to excoriate him over the transgression for 45 minutes.
Two weeks later Obama himself got directly into the act. When Netanyahu came to the White House in an effort to calm the winds, he found himself snubbed by Obama in what may have been the most insolent treatment ever meted out by a U.S. president to a visiting head of government.
The next November in Jakarta, asked at a press conference about approvals that had been issued to build 1300 homes—for Jews, of course—in two Jerusalem neighborhoods, Obama replied: “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.” As I noted at the time, Indonesia is a country that forbids Israeli citizens to visit, is one of 19 UN member states that do not recognize Israel as a state, and does not allow overflights by Israeli planes.
Then, in May 2011, Obama said in a speech to the State Department:
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt…. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps….
That, in a radical break with previous U.S. policy that left the issue of borders open, meant Israel had no right to any of the territory it had captured in 1967—not the strategically indispensable Jordan Valley and not the liberated parts of Jerusalem including the Old City, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount—and would have to “swap” parts of pre-1967 Israel for what little it managed to keep.
The consternation was so great that a few days later Obama—in a speech to AIPAC—seemed to backtrack in the other direction, saying that “the parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.” By now, though, the president’s attitudes toward Jerusalem and Israel were clear enough.
The most recent events are, then, just the continuation of a pattern. The fact that there was so much difficulty voice-voting Jerusalem back into the Democratic platform—if it was actually done at all—reflects the fact that the problem goes beyond Obama himself and includes a sizable portion of the Democratic Party.
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