May 24, 2011
The Rabbinical Council of America thanks President Obama for his welcome clarifications at the AIPAC Conference regarding the quest for peace between Israel and its neighbors. We appreciate the President's proven commitment to strengthening Israel's military deterrence, and his firm rejection of any unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
We note with grave concern, however, the President's open declaration that the pre-1967 armistice lines, with land swaps, be the baseline for negotiations. The notion of Israel living within those patently indefensible borders, its major population centers mere minutes away from invading armies, simply cannot even be a subject for discussion. Furthermore, it is both disturbing and potentially perilous that those around the world who do not share our and the President's concern for the vulnerability of Israeli civilians can now use his remarks as diplomatic cover.
With equal concern, we note that the President left open for further negotiation the issue of Palestinian refugees. This marks a stark departure from the previously expressed U.S. policy that a just and fair solution to the Palestinian refugee problem would be their absorption into a future Palestinian state.
Finally, given the recent embrace by President Abbas of the murderous Hamas regime, Israel can not be expected to entrust its future to a peace treaty which could well be abrogated by future rulers of a Palestinian state. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in the pursuit of an illusory peace, which was followed by increased rocket and terror attacks upon its civilian population at the hand of Hamas, should not be forgotten or ignored. We are so pleased that on this matter President Obama stands so emphatically with Israel. As he said in his Sunday remarks in reference to Hamas, "No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction."
We are grateful to the President for his earnest and constructive clarifications of recent days, and appreciate his commitment to the long-term security of Israel. At the same time, we urge him and his advisors to support Israel's proven need for defensible borders. And we share with him the insistence on Palestinian partners who unambiguously reject terror and incitement, and who themselves accept and recognize Israel as a permanent, Jewish state.