Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for Israel’s 1967 borders to be taken as the starting point for talks on a future Palestinian state.
In a landmark speech to the State Department on Thursday, Obama said the peace negotiations should result in “a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel.”
“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,” the U.S. president said.
Netanyahu’s office said the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war were “indefensible.”
In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said Israel appreciated “President Obama’s commitment to peace” but believed that for peace to endure “the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.”
Netanyahu is meeting Obama for talks at the White House later on Friday.
The statement said Netanyahu was expecting Obama to reaffirm U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004.
“Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines,” the statement said.
“Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Obama’s effort to start fresh negotiations with Israel.
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