Obama: 1967 lines would 'account for changes'

By Jennifer Lipman, May 23, 2011
President Obama addressing the AIPAC conference

President Obama addressing the AIPAC conference

Barack Obama has clarified what he meant by his call for a two - state solution along 1967 lines with mutually agreed land exchanges.

The remark, made during his major Middle East address last week, was said to represent a more extreme statement on Israel than that of any previous administration. Critics, including Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, called it unacceptable and rejected the idea of a return to an Israel that was just nine miles wide.

But the President, addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference on Sunday, said that if there was a controversy, then it was not one "based in substance".

He said: "By definition, it means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different from the one that existed on June 4, 1967."

He said that it was a proposal long acknowledged privately by those who were working on the peace process. He added: "It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides."

President Obama acknowledged that what he was asking was a hard choice but urged against intransigence on the part of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Arab States, and the international community.

He said: "We cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast.

"As a friend of Israel, I am committed to doing our part to see that this goal is realised."

Last updated: 9:59am, May 23 2011