WASHINGTON (JTA) – President Obama said the future state of Palestine should be based on the pre-1967 border with mutually agreed land swaps with Israel.
In his address Thursday afternoon on U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama told an audience at the State Department that the borders of a "sovereign, nonmilitarized" Palestinian state "should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."
Negotiations should focus first on territory and security, and then the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem and what to do about the rights of Palestinian refugees can be breached, Obama said.
"Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and secuertiy does not mean it will be easy to come back to the table," Obama said, noting the new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, a group foreswarn to Israel's destruction.
"How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?" Obama said. "Palestinians have to provide a credible answer to that question."
The U.S. president did not announce a specific initiative to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.
The speech, which focused mostly on the Arab democracy movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world, marked the first time Obama formally declared that the pre-Six Day War borders should form the basis of negotiations.