Obama clarifies remarks on borders at AIPAC

It wasn't exactly a walk back from Thursday. The president still insisted that the 1967 borders with "mutually agreed swaps" be the starting point for negotiations.

However, the president did mention that the recent unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah would make it impossible to negotiate unless Hamas renounced terrorism and recognized Israel's right to exist.

That, at least, was a slight improvement of sorts from his Thursday remarks. But as Jen Rubin points out, the differences were subtle and did not go over very well among attendees:

He was not booed when he entered; most stood and offered brief applause. Still, the crowd during the speech had long periods of stony silence, and audible boos were heard when he brought up his plan to base an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on the 1967 border lines. 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.

Rubin lists the problems with the speech:

The problems in the speech include: 1) Obama made it clear the United States is willing to give away Israel's bargaining position for nothing in return; 2) Obama never even mentioned the right of return; 3) He did not reiterate specifically the necessity of a military presence in the Jordan Valley. You see, only Israel's expected concessions are "well known"; 4) Israel can't be expected to negotiate with those who want to destroy it, but negotiations need to resume; and 5) if anything Obama underscored that the United States has differences with Israel - but it's between "friends."

Obama must be very certain that liberal Jews will enthusiastically support him no matter what. And there is evidence he is right. Josh Block, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former AIPAC spokesman, e-mailed: "It [the speech] was a strong reaffirmation of the US-Israel relationship, and was an important and positive change from his remarks on Thursday. It reflected an important continuity of US policy going back to President Johnson."

This is the sort of spin that pro-Israel Democrats use to justify voting for Obama. But there is a reality that can't be avoided. This president once again has proved an apt negotiator on behalf of the Palestinians and a thorn in Israel's side. Now is a time of choosing for the American Jewish community, for Israel and for Congress. And if Obama should be reelected in 2012 one can only imagine how hostile he will become toward the Jewish state.

I find it most telling that Obama places all the expectations for concessions on Israel. After all, recognizing Israel's right to exist cannot be considered a "concession" at all. It is a fact of nature, not subject to negotiation, only the recognition of reality. Renouncing violence would also not be a concession. It is how neighbors co-exist naturally so the thought that Hamas would be "conceding" anything by giving up terrorism is absurd.

Rarely has a US president caused such a stink with no prospect whatsoever that anything could possibly come of it. He has needlessly angered an ally at a time when we need them the most. His plan has no chance of starting peace talks again and all he has done is angered both sides and levied unrealistic expectations on Israel.