EU backs Obama’s call for Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty based on 1967 borders

Published May 23rd, 2011 - 08:27 GMT
U.S President Obama
U.S President Obama

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Sunday, the U.S President, Barack Obama, repeated that Israel's pre-1967 borders should be the basis for a peace deal, but that the final borders could be adjusted to accommodate "new demographic realities."

That was seen as a recognition that Israel could keep at least some of the occupied area where it has settled Jews. Some 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal by the Palestinians and the international community.

Obama also noted the 1967 lines have long been considered a basis for a final peace deal, most recently in previous negotiations that broke down in 2008. So his embrace of those borders is not revolutionary. "What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately," he said.

The EU ministers say they will back President Barack Obama's call for a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday that "the EU has had a common position for a long time that the (peace talks) should be based on the 1967 lines, with land swaps."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says that "on some of the key issues (Obama) was very much on the European line."

They were speaking as EU ministers gathered for their regular monthly meeting.

Bildt criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of the '67 borders as "indefensible." He says, "The only defence that is possible is peace."

Obama has also reiterated his request that the Palestinians drop their plans to appeal for recognition at the United Nations this fall, and — as he did in another Mideast speech Thursday — raised tough questions about an emerging Palestinian unity government that is to include the Hamas militant group.

Most difficult for Palestinians is Obama's call to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, essentially requiring the Palestinians to accept that most refugees will be denied the "right of return" to what is now Israel.

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