In remarks that were unusually blunt for a visiting head of state, Netanyahu outlined his vision for a Middle East peace that is not only at odds with White House proposals, but also anathema to Palestinians
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At virtually every stop on his extended trip to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed the need for hard truth and clarity. In remarks that were unusually blunt for a visiting head of state, Netanyahu outlined his vision for a Middle East peace that is not only at odds with recent White House proposals, but also anathema to Palestinians. That Netanyahu felt free to lecture Barack Obama at the White House last week, secure in the adoring reception he would later receive from both Republicans and Democrats at yesterday's speech before a joint session of Congress, only underscores how far apart these two leaders and their administrations remain in their readings of seismic events in the Middle East.
When Netanyahu flatly rejected Obama's call to restart territorial negotiations based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with mutual "land swaps," he wasn't actually rejecting the substance of the proposal. Netanyahu knows that fundamental construct has served as the basis for every Israeli-Palestinian negotiation going back to the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s. He objected to an American president stating the obvious publicly for the first time, thus potentially raising the expectations of Palestinian negotiators about the nature and ratio of those "land swaps." So Netanyahu mischaracterized what Obama had proposed, eyeball-to-eyeball in the White House, insisting it called for a return to 1967 borders.