Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama’s vision of a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 could leave the Jewish state “indefensible”.
“The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence,” the Israeli leader said in a statement before flying to Washington for scheduled talks with Obama on Friday.
Responding to an Obama speech on Thursday outlining Middle East strategy, Netanyahu said he expected Washington to let Israel keep major settlement blocs beyond the 1967 lines in the occupied West Bank under any peace deal with the Palestinians.
Setting out the principles of a Middle East peace accord, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
He called for a deal resulting in two states, Israel and Palestine, sharing the border that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.
It would include “mutually agreed land swaps”, he said. Netanyahu said he expected “to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004” — an allusion to a letter by then-President George W. Bush suggesting the Jewish state may keep big settlement blocs as part of any peace pact with the Palestinians.
“Those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu added. Such a border, he said, would be “indefensible.”