In regard to Francine Klagsbrun’s Opinion article, “Especially on Mideast Issues, Words Do Matter” (June 10), the author says that for those “who care about Israel there is every point in knowing the facts.” In our hyperpolarized political world, choosing isolated facts out of context does a disservice to the truth and moves the parties to more intransigent positions. The author correctly points out that President Barack Obama said a return to 1967 lines with land swaps does not mean a return to the 1967 lines.
However, what is unfortunately left out is that the issue of land swaps was the major concession of the Israelis at both Taba and Camp David; it was joined at the hip to the fact that the Palestinians would have absolutely no right of return, as well as the signing of an end-of-conflict resolution. An end-of-conflict resolution means that no further claims of territory, or further claims of the refugees would have any legal validity.
This was the dangerous error of the president’s speech, which is unfortunately ignored by those defending him. All of the previously signed or proposed “peace process” documents or plans — Oslo, the Road Map, the Olmert Proposal — were based on Resolution 242.
Resolution 242 did not ask or require Israel to give up any of its pre-1967 territory, which is now called land swaps. It acknowledged that Israel could not be expected to return to the 1967 indefensible borders of the 1949 armistice line, and the end game was suppose to be a territorial change where Israel would acquire some amount of territory of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) for defensible, secure borders.
The offer of land swaps was the only major tangible concession Israel had to offer. Land swaps go way beyond the requirements of 242. Land swaps were never offered by Israel in isolation, as the Obama speech required, but only as part of a signed comprehensive peace deal. So the point that is missed is that the president took the one and only tangible concession of Israel and offered it to the Palestinians without requirement of a tangible concession on their part.
In other words, the president took the land swap offer of the past, which was always in private and attached to “no right of return” of the refugees, and for the first time made the previously non-negotiable issue of refugees, and the right of return, a negotiable issue.
For those who believe in the two-state solution as the only way for Israel to remain a democratic and Jewish state, the president has hardened the position of the Palestinians and made peace much less likely.
Director, MEPIN (Middle East Political and Information Network) White Plains, N.Y.