US senators lash out at Obama peace efforts

More than 30 senators introduce bill in opposition to president's position that Israel should retreat to 1967 borders.

    A US senate bill opposes Israel's 1967 borders which have recently been supported by president Barack Obama [EPA]

    US senators have dealt a symbolic blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to renew peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, opposing any Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders.

    In a resolution proposed on Thursday, more than 30 senators, including members of the president's Democratic party, said that US policy aims to "support and facilitate Israel in maintaining defensible borders".

    "It is contrary to United States policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967," read the text introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch, a Republican from the US state of Utah, and Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut.

    Last month, Obama gave rare public voice to the long-standing US policy of supporting a Palestinian state based on the borders that preceded the Six Day War in the latter part of 1967, with mutually agreed land swaps.

    His statement provoked a public scolding from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a White House visit the following day.

    Netanyahu stressed the "indefensible" nature of the 1967 lines, and has done so numerous times since the May visit to Washington.

    'Threatening regional stability'

    Senator Hatch said in a statement that "boundaries that existed on June 4, 1967, placed Israel in a precarious military situation that threatened regional stability".

    "This resolution reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to support and facilitate Israel in maintaining secure, recognised and defensible borders."

    Israel and the Palestinians have been stuck over negotiations, which stopped shortly after they were relaunched in Washington in September 2010, when a partial freeze on Israeli settlement construction expired.

    Settlement expansion has since continued as Israel refused to renew the freeze, and the Palestinian unity government, which includes both Fatah and Hamas representatives, insisted it would not hold talks while settlements are being built on land they want for their future state.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has since said he will not return to the negotiating table unless the 1967 lines are used as the basis for future agreed-upon borders.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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