JERUSALEM, Israel -- A senior Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on Israel's borders remains the same, despite some media reports Wednesday alluding to a change in policy.
"There will be no return to the 1967 borders," the official had told CBN News on Tuesday, adding that future borders "must reflect new realities on the ground and Israel's national and strategic interests."
According to Wednesday's Jerusalem Post, Israel agreed to give Palestinian Arabs the 1967 lines as a "baseline" for restarting negotiations if the P.A. would agree to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
The article states that Netanyahu agreed to "language" that would affirm President Barack Obama's framework for restarting negotiations, expressed at last spring's AIPAC conference: to use the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps. By accepting this formula, Israel hopes the P.A. might be convinced to drop its U.N. bid for unilateral statehood in September and re-start talks instead.
Meanwhile, the Quartet -- U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia -- is still trying to formulate its position for the Palestinians' U.N. bid. Current E.U. chief Catherine Ashton reportedly would like to see a consensus among European countries.
A Look Back
While all this posturing continues both in Israel and abroad, a look back on more than two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may help clarify today's situation.
In 1993, the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, signed the Oslo Accords. In the ceremony, which took place on the White House lawn, Arafat shook hands with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin under the watchful eye of former President Bill Clinton.
A year later, Arafat explained to a crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa, his position, reported by the Palestinian Media Watch and Peace for our Time, among others. Click here to see PMW's YouTube video.
"This agreement [the Oslo Accords] I am considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Mohammad and Koreish, and you remember that the Caliph Omar had refused this agreement and considered it a despicable truce…But the same way, Mohammed had accepted it, we are now accepting this peace effort," Arafat said.
"In the name of Allah…believe me, there is a lot to be done," he said. "The jihad ['holy' war] will continue…our main battle is Jerusalem, Jerusalem…," Arafat said unabashedly.
"And here we are, I can't -- and I have to speak frankly -- I can't do it alone…No, you have to come and fight and to start the jihad to liberate Jerusalem," he said.
"No, it's not their [the Jews] capital. It is our capital. It is your capital," he said. Click here to read more of Arafat's speech on the Peace for our Time website.
How much has really changed?
Following Arafat's death, Mahmoud Abbas -- who some experts consider one of the chief architects of the Oslo Accords -- was elected PLO chairman in his place. For nearly 40 years, Abbas served as Arafat's chief deputy. Without going into his whole history, suffice it to say Abbas saw diplomacy -- rather than terrorism -- as the way to end Israel's "illegal occupation" of "Palestine."
At the same time, Abbas condoned the right of Arab terror groups -- such as the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, Islamic Jihad or Hamas -- to use armed "resistance," e.g., suicide bombings, rocket attacks, drive-by shootings, to defend themselves against the Zionist occupiers.
For these reasons and many more, Netanyahu and his advisors must proceed with caution and extraordinary wisdom in trying to formulate a peace agreement with Israel's Palestinian Arab neighbors, the surrounding Arab countries and the nations of the world.