WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he was prepared to make compromises to peace but he rejected President Barack Obama’s proposal that Israel return to its 1967 borders.
Obama and Netanyahu met at the White House a day after the U.S. president endorsed a longstanding Palestinian demand on the borders for their future state.
In remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said he had reiterated the principles he had laid out on Thursday.
Both men acknowledged differences between their positions.
Obama said the United States and Israel had an extraordinary bond. Netanyahu said he and Obama could still work together for peace.
Update: Even better, he’s looking right at Obama and telling him in front of the World, it isn’t gonna happen.
“The only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakable facts. I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines. Because these lines are indefensible. Because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.
Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of 9 miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington beltway. These were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars because the attack on Israel was so attractive for them. 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. . . .
We’ve been around for almost four thousand years. We’ve experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We’ve gone through expulsions, pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions.
But I can say that even at the dearth, even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel.
And now it falls on my shoulders as the Prime Minister of Israel, at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the middle east to work with you and fashion a peace that will ensure Israel’s security and will not jeopardize it’s survival.
Update II: It’s worth noting Netanyahu made the above statement to Obama in front of the cameras after they had already met in private for over an hour and a half.