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Right Wing Columnist Wrong in White House Call Reports

David Streeter — June 16, 2011 – 1:18 pm | Barack Obama | Foreign Policy | Israel | Stop the Smears Comments (0) Add a comment

JTA’s Ron Kampeas published a clear account of the recent call for Jewish leaders held by the White House last week that directly refuted the claims made by a conservative columnist. Kampeas wrote:

The Washington Post’s left and right columnists are having a grand old time mixing it up over a call that Steve Simon, the White House go-to guy on Israel, had with the Jewish leadership last Friday.

I heard the call. To put it gently, Greg Sargent, the Plum Line, or ‘left’ columnist has it right. And I don’t know where Jennifer Rubin, the ‘Right Turn’ columnist, is getting her info.

Kampeas wrote regarding claims that the Obama Administration is pressuring Israel to negotiate with Hamas:

Here’s Rubin in her initial post:

What happened to the statements in President Obama’s speech to AIPAC that Israel could not be expected to sit down with those who want to destroy it? After all Hamas has not yet agreed to the Quartet principles (recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by past agreements), nor has [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas separated himself from the unity government.

I did not quote Simon directly, but I did paraphrase him as noting that the parameters included ‘no negotiations with a partner that includes Hamas unless it renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel’ and that he said the United States would cut off the P.A. in that case.

So for Rubin’s sake, I will now quote Simon directly:

We don’t expect Israel to negotiate with a Hamas government. If they [the Palestinian Authority] go to a power sharing arrangement where Hamas’ position has not shifted, then we’re obligated to cut off our support.

It couldn’t be clearer: Not only would Israel not be expected to negotiate with a government that included Hamas, but the United States would cut off such a government.

Kampeas also debunked other speculative claims leveled against the Obama Administration:

What’s more, I’m not sure how, in the same post, Rubin gets to Israel giving up the Western Wall—a meme that has been picked up by others on the right, and yesterday in a statement by the Zionist Organization of America. Here’s Rubin:

To be clear, Israel is being pressured to give up prior understandings that the Western Wall and the Jerusalem suburbs, for example, would never be part of a Palestinian state.

How does this square with Obama’s proposal that Jerusalem be deferred until after the borders are decided? Here’s what he says:

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Now, I’ve heard two opposing versions of what I’ll call ‘fret spin’ about the above locution. Those in the mainstream pro-Israel community fret that leaving Jerusalem and refugees until later means Obama is retreating from Bush administration understandings that the new Jewish suburbs in the city are sacrosanct, and that the refugee issue is closed; those sympathetic to Palestinians fret that it means pulling leverage away from the Palestinians—in other words, that they get to talk about these issues only after they have conceded an end to the conflict and territorial blocs in the West Bank.

It might mean both these scenarios, it might mean neither—this gets a little too speculative for me. But one clear meaning of ‘two wrenching and emotional issues will remain’ is that Jerusalem and the Western Wall (!!) are not included in the ‘1967 lines with land swaps’ phase.



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