Fitzpatrick, Dent Disagree With Obama On Israel

Bucks County Courier Times

Last Thursday, President Barack Obama embraced Palestinian terms for drawing the borders of their new nation next to a smaller Israel, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick called on the president to retract and reassess his policy for the Middle East.

And again Sunday, just days after Obama outlined his vision for the changing Middle East and sought to alleviate concerns of America’s pro-Israel lobby, Fitzpatrick called it “disappointing to see our president put our strongest ally in the Middle East in such a position.

“President Obama cannot expect Israel to concede on its borders as a condition of peace talks going forward,” Fitzpatrick said Sunday. “Such a condition would weaken Israel, endanger her citizens, threaten her security and embolden her enemies.”

Obama, in what The Associated Press is describing as “a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy,” is calling for Israel to give up territory it captured in the 1967 Six Day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria — East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – as a way to salvage a peace effort in shambles.

He said Israel can never live in true peace as a Jewish state if it insists on “permanent occupation.”

At a Friday White House meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly rejected the idea, calling the 1967 demarcation “indefensible.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “Everybody knows it’s not going to happen.”

Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, agreed with Netanyahu, calling the 1967 borders a “non-starter.”

“It would leave whole populations within Israel indefensible,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only Republican to hit Obama on the issue. Both Congressman Charlie Dent of the 15th District and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey took shots in press releases.

“More than 40 years ago, Israel’s Arab neighbors joined together in an attempt to wipe the Jewish state off the map,” Toomey stated. “After Israel defeated its enemies in six days in 1967, its Arab neighbors refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist and some continue to wage war against the Jewish state to this day. After 60 years of defending itself against aggression and brutal acts of terror, Israel deserves the right, at the very least, to maintain borders that will ensure its security.”

Stated Dent, “By calling on Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders, the president has chosen to pursue an abrupt shift in American Middle East policy at a time when he must instead focus on supporting potentially transformational democratic movements and eliminating the ever-present threat of terrorism.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, a 13th District Democrat and a strong advocate of both Israel and the president, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

However, in a press release, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Obama “reaffirmed our nation’s unshakeable relationship with Israel. Israel must have the ability to defend itself, by itself, and I was pleased that the president made that clear.”

Of the pre-1967 borders plan, Hoyer stated, “We must keep in mind that the situation on the ground has clearly changed over the last 44 years. Whatever peace agreement is reached must recognize the reality on the ground.”