Comparing Bush and Obama on Israel
I hadn’t really paid much attention to President Barack Obama’s recent comments on Israel, nor the reaction of many Republicans and Democrats, who are no doubt reacting to a something that could hurt them with voters.
But Doug Mataconis posted a video that caught my eye. It compares Obama’s comments to comments made by George W. Bush back in January 2008 while he was visiting Jerusalem:
Since the video was cut for emphasis and length, I was able to find a transcript of the speech just to put it all in proper context:
I share with these two leaders the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve it.
The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize this vision seems clear: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.
It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other’s fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement. Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian state are in the mutual interests of both parties.
Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides. While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous. I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue.
The Guardian, a UK-based news outlet, had a the headline, “Bush calls on Israel to end occupation of Palestinian land.” They noted:
The US president, George Bush, today called on Israel to end its 41-year occupation of Palestinian land and predicted a peace treaty would be signed by the time he leaves office.
Speaking after a meeting with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Bush said: “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. An agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.”
He reiterated America’s “steadfast commitment to Israel’s security” but said the future Palestine must be “viable”, “contiguous” and “sovereign”.
If Barack Obama is anti-Israel, so was George W. Bush. If you’re going to criticize Obama for what he said, at least be consistent.