Daily Israel Report

Senators Challenge Obama on Foreign Policy on Israel

A resolution introduced by several U.S. lawmakers challenges Obama’s policy on Israel by opposing an Israeli withdrawal to 1949 armistice lines.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/15/2011, 2:39 AM / Last Update: 6/15/2011, 3:13 AM

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Several U.S. senators have decided to challenge President Barack Obama’s policy towards Israel by introducing a resolution that opposes any Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.

The resolution was introduced last Thursday by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah and independent Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.

“It is contrary to United States policy and our national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967,” the resolution states.

It calls Israel “a liberal democratic ally of the United States” and notes that it has been “repeatedly attacked by authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations that denied its right to exist.” It then acknowledges that the United States Government “remains steadfastly committed to the security of Israel, especially its ability to maintain secure, recognized, and defensible borders; Whereas the United States Government is resolutely bound to its policy of preserving and strengthening the capability of Israel to deter enemies and defend itself against any threat.”

The resolution then mentions the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 which recognized Israel’s “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” and acknowledges that “the United States has long recognized that a return to the 1967 lines would create a strategic military vulnerability for Israel and greatly impede its sovereign right to defend its borders.”

In his policy speech at the State Department on May 19, President Obama said, “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

Republican Party members were quick to criticize Obama for his statements, with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (a friend of Israel who recently declared his candidacy for president in 2012) saying Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus” and “disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.”

After Obama’s speech, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave his own speech to Congress on May 24, in which he said that Judea and Samaria are part of the ancient Jewish homeland that our forefathers walked in and that the 650,000 Jews living there "are not ‘occupying’ the region.”

Netanyahu also stressed in his speech that Israel “will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967.”

In a statement he released after he submitted the resolution, Senator Hatch said, “Boundaries that existed on June 4, 1967 placed Israel in a precarious military situation that threatened regional stability. This resolution reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to support and facilitate Israel in maintaining secure, recognized and defensible borders.”

In addition to Senator Lieberman, 29 other lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors, including Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Oregon) and Ben Nelson (Nebraska).