Fmr Israeli Diplomat: 'Obama Detached from Reality'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly rejected President Barack Obama's call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders as a move toward peace with the Palestinians. Many Jerusalemites feel the same way.

Netanyahu says for Israel, the 1967 lines would be "indefensible."

In his Middle East policy address, Obama said the result of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be two states with permanent borders.

"We believe 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 president said.

Doing so would make Israel just nine miles wide at a point where much of the Israeli population is concentrated.

Former Israeli liaison to the U.S. Congress Yoram Ettinger says Obama is detached from reality in the Middle East.

"Calling for Israel's withdrawal from the 1967 lines on one hand and calling for secure boundaries for Israel on the other hand constitute an oxymoron. Either you are in the indefensible lines of 1967 or you have secure boundaries," Ettinger told CBN News.

Ettinger says Thursday's address shows the president's attitude toward the Jewish state.

"Under the best circumstances, he is indifferent. Under the best circumstances he exercises moral equivalence, but in fact he has chosen to ignore the track record of Palestinian terrorism," he said.

Jerusalem residents expressed varying degrees of discomfort with Obama Mideast policy address.

Nir, an Israeli resident, told CBN News he likes the president's ideas, but the recent deal uniting the Fatah of the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority and the terrorist group Hamas is a problem.

"Right now the situation -- as it is right now -- is good for Israel. Even without continuing the peace negotiations it's good because there are not bombs here. We are relaxed," Nir said.

Another resident, Sandy, had a different perspective.

"I think he's very ignorant of the situation. He doesn't have a realistic understanding at all. We know it's very complicated and obviously there are two groups of people involved, but it would be suicide for Israel to go back to the 1967 borders," she said.

Israeli resident Effi told CBN News that Obama should focus on America's problems.

"President Obama doesn't really know what's going on, or maybe he knows, in this small region. I think he should focus on American problems," he said.

And Shira staunchly opposed the president's proposal, saying her homeland is God-given and Jewish blood has been spilt to protect it.

"Barack Obama says we should give back something that was not ours to give back. It was given to us by God and it was given to us by the death of our soldiers and what they sacrificed to protect us, and I don't think it's ours to give back," she said.

Obama says the future of Jerusalem, which he said is one of two "wrenching and emotional issues," is to be discussed later. But some say he has in essence called for the city's re-division.

"Obviously, anybody calling for return to the pre-1967 lines is calling for the re-partitioning of Jerusalem, is calling in fact to return holy Christian and Jewish sites to the authority of Arabs who did not allow Christians or Jews to worship freely in those sites before 1967 until Israel took control of those sites," Ettinger said.

"I believe that the scriptures indicate that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people. It has been for 3,000 years. It's the city Jesus is coming back to, and I don't believe it's supposed to be divided," Sandy said.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Bureau

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