Obama Clarifies Israel Border Comments to AIPAC

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Speaking to America's largest pro-Israel lobby Sunday, President Barack Obama backpedaled to clarify his support of Israel returning to its 1967 borders.

Criticism of the administration's policy on Israel has grown following Obama's May 19 endorsement of a two-state peace solution with Palestinians based on Israel's 1967 borders "with mutually agreed swaps."

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While addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama attempted to alleviate concerns that his administration was changing its stance on protecting Israel as the country works toward peace with the Palestinian Authority.

He told AIPAC members that his position on the issue has been "misrepresented several times."

"Let me reaffirm what '1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps' means," Obama said. "By definition, it means that the parties themselves -- Israelis and Palestinians -- will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967."

"It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides," he said.

"What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately," he later added. "We can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace."

"The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow," Obama continued. "Delay will undermine Israel's security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve."

Division on the issue was evident Friday as Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House.

Netanyahu stressed to Obama what's at risk if Israel returns to 1967 lines.

"These lines are indefensible," he said. "These were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars because the attack on Israel was so attractive."

"So we can't go back to those indefensible lines and we're going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan," he continued.

Obama stressed to AIPAC America's commitment to Israel's security, despite the latest disagreement with Netanyahu.

"Even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable," Obama said. "And the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad."

Obama also called the recent Hamas-Fatah union "an enormous obstacle to peace."

"No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction," he said to applause.

"We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel's right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements," he said.

More than 10,000 people attended Sunday's AIPAC event.

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