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An inglorious and shameful retreat by Obama

No one could have expected that US President Barak Obama's resistance to the Israeli campaign against him, led by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, in response to statements he made about the borders of an independent state of Palestine would collapse in just two days. This not only reveals the strength of the Israel Lobby and its aggressive nature, but also the fragility of the US president's position and the weakness of his resolve under Zionist pressure.

In a speech to the annual conference of the Israel Lobby's influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, Obama backpedalled on the position set out in his "historic" speech on the Middle East last Thursday. To AIPAC he asserted that "the borders of the promised Palestinian state do not necessarily mean the 1967 borders, and borders must no doubt be demarcated in accordance with what has been negotiated between the two sides taking into account the demographic changes that have occurred over the last 40 years".

We are well aware that the president was speaking at a Jewish conference and are similarly aware that he needs the voices and influence – political and financial   of the individuals in attendance given that he is on the threshold of a re-election campaign for a second term in office. Nevertheless, we are also aware that we do not expect him, as the head of the most powerful country in the world, to retreat with lightning speed from a position he had adopted willingly, without any external pressure; that was a fair position in accord with UN Security Council Resolution 242. Where is the clever lawyer pledged to defend the rights of the oppressed? Are the victims of his country's support for Israeli aggression over the past 60 plus years unworthy of his concern?

When Obama announced that he would resist any attempts to cast doubt on Israel's legitimacy or to isolate it internationally, he nominated himself as Israel's protector against criticism of its war crimes without making any demands in return. He didn't even ask that it puts a stop to its human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories or the building of illegal settlements. More sinister still, he intimated his opposition to any Palestinian attempt to obtain recognition of a Palestinian State from the UN General Assembly, considering any resolution that may result from such efforts to be symbolic and essentially worthless. In other words, he would not allow it to be implemented on the ground as long as Israel opposes it. 
It is unfortunate that the US president should adopt the Israeli narrative, including opposition to Palestinian reconciliation as the major obstacle to peace, rather than the view that illegal settlements, Israeli policies to sabotage negotiations and the non-implementation of legitimate international resolutions constitute just such obstacles. This is particularly unfortunate given that much hope was staked on Obama being different from his predecessors in the White House because of his background.

When President Obama insists on the need for Hamas to recognise Israel and it Jewish character; to renounce terrorism and to accept all previous agreements signed with Israel, let us ask him one thing: what has the PLO, which has met all of such US-Israeli conditions over the last 18 years, been given in return? Obama's retreat is shameful and rewards a state, Israel, which holds international law and, indeed, his own position as President of the United States of America, in contempt.

Source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi Opinion

Asia & AmericasCommentary & AnalysisIsraelMiddle EastPalestineUS
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