JUN 27, 2011, VOL. 16, NO. 39 • BY ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The Weekly Standard
In that speech the president adopted a new policy: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be based on the “1967 lines” with agreed land swaps. This position had previously been that of the Palestinian side, and Obama’s adherence to it undermined Israel’s negotiating position. It means, for example, that the Western Wall of the ancient Temple, Judaism’s holiest place but conquered by Jordan in 1948, is to be regarded as legitimately part of Palestine, such that Israel must trade some of its own pre-1967 territory to keep it.
But the president did not propose any actions: no conference, no new envoy, no invitations to Washington, nothing. He did not even dispatch Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to tour the area, in the traditional substitution of motion for progress. There was, as Rob Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has explained, “a policy without a strategy. It is no surprise, therefore, that others have begun to fill the vacuum—a development that is almost always unwelcome.”