Remember a couple months ago, when the President came out in support of a Middle East peace framework based on the 1967 borders with mutual swaps, and every conservative in America pilloried him for it? Funny story, now Benjamin Netanyahu agrees:

In a dramatic policy shift, Israel’s prime minister has agreed to negotiate the borders of a Palestinian state based on the cease-fire line that marks off the West Bank, a TV station reported Monday.

Up to now, Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to spell out his plan for negotiating the border. A senior Israeli official would not confirm outright that the prime minister was now willing to adopt the cease-fire line as a starting point, but said Israel was willing to try new formulas to restart peace talks based on a proposal made by President Barack Obama.

A government official pushed back on this in the LA Times but admitted that Netanyahu was willing to show “flexibility.” According to the UK Telegraph, said that the offer was in exchange for the Palestinians agreeing not to pursue statehood at the United Nations in September.

There are a number of things we can say about this. First, it was a good idea for the President to bring up the 1967 borders back in May, and it did have the effect of bringing Netanyahu, who called those borders “indefensible” at the time, toward that position. But Obama aside, there were two dramatic forcing events that I would say pushed the Israeli government toward this view. First, the Palestinians had a credible threat to take statehood to the UN General Assembly. President Obama, in that same May speech, said that would only be divisive and wouldn’t solve anything, but he happened to be dead wrong. It provided the leverage that could kick-start actual negotiations.

The other forcing event is the ongoing protests against privatization and living conditions that have rocked Israel in recent weeks. The Likudnik government is responding to that with this show of flexibility. The same people in the streets are the ones who make up a majority of Israelis in wanting to pursue peace.

I do think it’s worthwhile, as Adam Serwer does, to point and laugh at reactionary neocons who called the President “anti-Israel” for daring to suggest a peace process along preliminary borders that every US President of the last several decades has considered a starting point to a deal.

Of course, the 1967 lines have been the framework for negotiations for years. Obama’s proposal couldn’t have been news to Netanyahu, who had released a statement with Hillary Clinton last November calling for negotiations “based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps.” So the best part about Netanyahu’s latest overture, from his perspective, is that it’s barely a concession at all.

I look forward to the harsh condemnations of Netanyahu from American members of Congress.

Me too.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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