Slew Of House Republicans Falsely Claim President Obama Called For Israel To Return To "1967 Borders"

May 26, 2011 9:37 am ET

Since his speech on the Middle East last Thursday, President Obama's opponents have falsely attacked him for calling on Israel to return to its "1967 borders." In reality, Obama repeated the ordinary belief that an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace deal should result in two states with secure borders "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," which will allow Israel to retain large settlements in the West Bank. Addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the president explained very clearly that his original statement meant that the final border negotiated between the parties "will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967." However, that hasn't stopped many House Republicans from perpetuating a smear against Obama for something he never actually said.

GOP Lawmakers Wrongly Claim Obama Called For Return To "1967 Borders"

Rep. Michele Bachmann: Obama's Support For "Pre-War Borders Of 1967" Is "Another Example Of His Policy Of Blaming Israel First." According to Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) campaign website:

President Obama has announced his support of returning Israel and Palestine to the pre-war borders of 1967--borders that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "indefensible." This announcement was an unprecedented act and is yet another example of his policy of blaming Israel first. [, accessed 5/25/11, emphasis original]

Rep. Leonard Lance: Obama's "Suggesting That Israel Return To Its 1967 Borders" Is "Misguided." In a statement, House Republican Israel Caucus chair Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) said:

I join the Prime Minister's rejection of President Obama's recent suggestion that Israel return to its 1967 borders as a condition of a self-governing Palestinian state.  Forcing Israel to concede its borders to the 1967 lines is misguided and would have a negative consequence on the security of Israeli people. [, 5/24/11]

Rep. Jeb Hensarling: "Wrong" For Obama To Endorse A Plan That "Entails Israel Reinstating Its 1967 Borders." In a statement, House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) wrote:

As I stated after President Obama's address last week, it is wrong for his Administration to endorse a 'peace plan' that entails Israel reinstating its 1967 borders. Such an approach is deeply misguided and does not address the real challenges to Israeli security directly caused by the Palestinian Authority's dangerous alignment with Hamas. [, 5/24/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Steve Pearce: "Shocked" By President's Call For Return To "1967 Borders." In a column on his congressional website, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) wrote:

I was shocked to hear the President make the unprecedented suggestion that Israel should revert to its 1967 borders. [...]

The 1967 borders are significant because that year saw hundreds of thousands of Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, and Iraqi troops massed along those borders, intent on invading and destroying Israel.  It is disturbing that the President would even speak of forcing our ally back into such a position. [, 5/24/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Scott Garrett: "I Do Not Agree With President Obama's Suggestion That Israel Revert Back To Its 1967 Borders." In a press statement, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) said:

Like Prime Minister Netanyahu, I do not agree with President Obama's suggestion that Israel revert back to the 1967 borders as a starting point for peace negotiations with the Palestinians.  Nor do I agree with President Obama's assertion that Israel can remain secure next to a contiguous Palestine. [, 5/24/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Paul Broun: President "Demanded That Israel Return To Its Pre-1967 Borders." In a column in The Daily Caller, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) wrote:

On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the White House, President Barack Obama demanded that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders and accept the creation of a Palestinian state. [The Daily Caller, 5/24/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Rob Wittman: "Disappointed" That Obama "Endorsed A Plan For Israel To Return To Its 1967 Borders." In a press release, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) said:

I was extremely disappointed with the comments by the President last week as he endorsed a plan for Israel to return to its 1967 borders, a position described by PM Netanyahu as "indefensible." [, 5/24/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Steve Chabot: Obama's Suggestion That Israel Return To "Pre-1967 Borders...Without Significant Territorial Swaps" Endangers Israel. In a press release, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) said:

President Obama's suggestion that the final Israeli border should be based on the pre-1967 borders represents a departure of decades of American policy and, without significant territorial swaps, risks jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel.  Land swaps are needed not only to accommodate population changes on the ground; they are also to accommodate the security needs of Israel which cannot be asked to accept an indefensibly-narrow border.  I was disappointed that President Obama did not note this explicitly and I hope that he and his Administration will do so in the future [, 5/24/11]

Rep. Connie Mack: "Outraged" That Obama Suggested "Returning To The 'Indefensible' 1967 Borders. In a press release, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) said:

Like the Prime Minister, I am outraged that President Obama would suggest returning to the 'indefensible' 1967 borders and suggesting that Israel should negotiate with a Hamas-backed nation. [, 5/24/11]

Rep. Tom Marino: Israel Cannot "Return To The 1967 Borders As Suggested By President Obama." In a statement, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) said:

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Netanyahu. Israel cannot give up territory and return to the 1967 borders as suggested by President Obama in an ill-timed statement last week. [, 5/24/11]

Rep. Randy Neugebauer: "Calling On Israel To Return To 1967 Borders" Was "A Kick In The Pants." From Rep. Randy Neugebauer's (R-TX) website:

Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) issued the following statement regarding President Obama calling on Israel to agree to return to 1967 borders as a condition to peace negotiations with the Palestinians:

"President Obama's speech yesterday reinforces what many Americans already know about the President's view of America's role in the world - mainly that our allies are dispensable and not worth the courtesy of our respect and support. The President's speech was nothing more than a kick in the pants to one of our countries most loyal and helpful allies in the war against terror." [, 5/23/11]

Rep. Ted Poe: "The President Has Decided To Split The Nation Of Israel In Two." In a House floor speech, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) said:

[I]n a failed attempt to play Solomon, the President has decided to split the nation of Israel in two. He wants Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians in the name of peace. Israel has a history of giving up land and still has no peace.

The President's proposal would make Israel a land it could not defend. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said "nyet" to the President. [, 5/23/11]

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle: Obama "Blindsided Israel...With His Call For A Return To Pre-1967 Borders." In a column in The Hill, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) wrote:

Last week, President Obama blindsided Prime Minister Netanyahu and friends of Israel in the U.S. with his call for a return to pre-1967 borders. [The Hill, 5/23/11]

Rep. Chris Smith: President's "Insistence That Israel Revert To Its 1967 Borders Is...Born Of Moral Confusion." In a statement, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said:

President Obama's insistence that Israel revert to its 1967 borders is bad policy born of moral confusion. [, 5/21/11]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Obama Endorsed "Pre-1967 Lines" "Without Receiving Anything In Return." In a statement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said:

"The biggest problem with the President's borders proposal is that reducing Israel's borders to the pre-1967 lines would endanger Israel. It would undermine Israel's strategic depth, increasing its vulnerability to both military invasions and the sorts of rocket and missile attacks that Hamas carries out in Gaza. But there are other major problems.

"The President's call is a stark change in longstanding U.S. foreign policy, contradicting pledges to Israel by multiple U.S. Presidents. This about-face sends the wrong message to U.S. allies about our willingness to stand by our commitments.

"By endorsing the pre-1967 lines, the President has granted Abu Mazen a major concession without receiving anything in return." [, 5/20/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Jeff Duncan: Obama Suggested "Israel Should Retreat To Its Impossible To Defend 1967 Borders." In a statement, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said:

By siding with the demands of Palestine's Hamas-led government, President Obama has undermined Israel's position in the negotiation process. President Obama's statement that Israel should retreat to its impossible to defend 1967 borders breaks a promise to one of our strongest allies, threatens Israel's security, and jeopardizes the future of democracy in the region. [, 5/20/11, emphasis added]

Rep. Allen West: Obama Endorsed "Hamas-Led" Palestine "Based On The Pre-1967 Borders." In a press release, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) said:

Today's endorsement by President Barack Obama of the creation of a Hamas-led Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, signals the most egregious foreign policy decision his administration has made to date, and could be the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state. [, 5/19/11]

President Obama Never Demanded Return To '67 Lines, Said Final Borders Should Include "Mutually Agreed Swaps" 

President Obama: "The Borders Of Israel And Palestine Should Be Based On The 1967 Lines With Mutually Agreed Swaps." From President Obama's May 19, 2011, speech on the Middle East and North Africa:

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear:  a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.  The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  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 Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. [President Obama Remarks, 5/19/11, emphasis added]

Obama: "The Parties Themselves...Will Negotiate A Border That Is Different Than The One That Existed" In 1967. From President Obama's May 22, 2011, speech at the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee 2011 Policy Conference:

And so, in advance of a five-day trip to Europe in which the Middle East will be a topic of acute interest, I chose to speak about what peace will require. 

There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.  Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday -- not what I was reported to have said. 

I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps -- (applause) -- so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. [...]

Now, that is what I said.  And it was my reference to the 1967 lines -- with mutually agreed swaps -- that received the lion's share of the attention, including just now.  And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what "1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" means.

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.  (Applause.)  That's what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.  It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.  It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.  (Applause.)  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.  The ultimate goal is two states for two people:  Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people -- (applause) -- and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people -- each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.  (Applause.)

If there is a controversy, then, it's not based in substance.  What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.  I've done so because we can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. [President Obama Remarks, 5/22/11, emphasis added]

Prime Minister Netanyahu Acknowledged That Obama Did Not Call For 1967 Lines. In his speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

Now, the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We'll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967. [Netanyahu Address to Congress, 5/24/11, emphasis added, via the Washington Post]