Did Obama Say Something So Different From Bush?

In 2005, Geoge W. Bush stated that it is "unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949" (the 1967 boundaries of Israel, in other words). Today, Barack Obama said that  he believes "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." I take this to mean that Israel would retain its major settlement blocs; that it would retain the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and that it would take West Bank land needed to thicken it at its most narrow point, in exchange for land adjacent to the Gaza Strip and the southern West Bank. I also interpret the saying "mutually agreed upon" to mean, well, "mutually agreed upon." In other words, these boundaries would not be set without Israel's approval.

I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is interpreting this as a major policy shift, and I understand that much of the media is going along with this interpretation. For what it's worth, I don't see a huge gap in the way these two Presidents framed the core issue.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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