Obama said that Washington’s commitment to Israel’s “security” is “ironclad”, adding that the “existence” and the “legitimacy” of the Zionist entity are not “matters for debate”.
“You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel,” he said.
Obama was speaking at the annual policy meeting of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main pro-Israel lobby in the US.
“As I said at the United Nation’s last year, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate, and efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.”
Few days before, Obama for the first time publicly called on Israel to accept a return to territorial lines in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with mutual land swaps with Palestinians, to frame a “secure peace”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Obama’s call, saying that the 1967 borders were “indefensible”.
Israeli media reported that following Obama’s speech tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv are at an all-time high.
Quoting the New York Times, Israeli daily Ynet said the “cold relationship between Obama and Netanyahu seems to have noted a new drop in temperature.”
US SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL “IRONCLAD”
In an attempt to ease tensions with Israel, Obama added on Sunday: “Even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad,” Obama also said on Sunday.
As he tried to “clear” his speech, the US President said: “There had been nothing particularly original in” the speech.
“But since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said,” he said.
“I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.
“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.”
But he added: “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”
PALESTINIAN UNITY “OBSTACLE TO PEACE”
On the other hand, Obama called the recent unity deal between Fatah and Hamas “an enormous obstacle to peace”, and called on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured five years ago.
“No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,” Obama said.
“We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace: recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to all existing agreements.”
But he added: “No matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable.”
NO VOTE TO CREATE INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN STATE
Obama’s call on Thursday prompted Palestinian officials to say that they would seek recognition for Palestinian statehood in the UN General Assembly in September.
Obama on Sunday rejected Palestinian demands as saying: “No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.”
“And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the UN or in any international forum. Because Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.”