President Barack Obama on Thursday backed a key Palestinian demand on the borders of a future state with Israel as part of his vision for a Middle East peace deal and sought to shape political change convulsing the region.
Obama’s proposal — a policy shift that effectively calls for a negotiated Israeli pullback to 1967 borders that existed before it occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem — drew a swift rejection from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of his Washington visit.
The president’s first public endorsement of the idea — in laying out his most detailed framework yet for an elusive peace deal — came in a much-anticipated “Arab spring” address aimed at recasting the U.S. response to upheaval sweeping the Arab world.
“At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent that ever,” Obama told an audience of U.S. and foreign diplomats at the State Department.
[Continues at Reuters]