NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- While President Barack Obama was meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, a protest was held at the Israeli consulate in Midtown Manhattan in response to the president’s plan for the Middle East.
“Obama’s calling for Israel to return to suicide borders,” said Peggy Weinstein, who added Obama’s suggestion should be taken as an insult and a reminder. “These borders are not defensible. They caused the ’67 war. They even call them, the Auschwitz borders.”
“He didn’t want to antagonize the Palestinians, but it’s okay to antagonize the Jews,” said New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn. “If he was interested in pursuing the peace process, he surely did not do that yesterday.
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Showing no concrete progress, Netanyahu sat alongside Obama on Friday and declared that Israel would not withdraw to 1967 borders to help make way for an adjacent Palestinian state. Obama had called on Israel to be willing to do just that in a speech the day earlier.
“President Obama is basically negotiating for the Palestinians. He has basically set down the parameters of the negotiations on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, who has refused to sit with the Israelis,” Hikind told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
The Israeli leader said he would make some concessions but Israel will not go back to the lines from decades earlier because they would be “indefensible.”
“I think that in order for there to be peace the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities; the first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace it cannot go back to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu said.
But Netanyahu wasn’t done. It was as if the president’s speech opened the floodgates. Netanyahu also dashed a long held Palestinian demand that Israel take back millions of Palestinian refugees displaced when the state of Israel was established.
“It’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen and I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen,” Netanyahu said.
The president never mentioned the 1967 borders as the two men talked with reporters. The leaders spoke after a lengthy meeting in the Oval Office, amid tense times.
Obama said in his speech on Thursday that the United States supports creation of a Palestinian state based on the border lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel forces occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The comment drew angry criticism in Israel.
Both the president and the prime minister agreed that it would be hard to make peace as long as the militant Hamas has partnered with more moderate Palestinians in the Fatah part and the president tried to put the best face on the discordant meeting.
“Obviously there are some differences between us and that’s going to happen between friends,” Obama said.
Senator Charles Schumer told Kramer: “As long as Hamas remains allied with the Palestinian Authority I don’t see how any negotiations can occur. Hamas has been branded a terrorist organization by the United States. Hamas has still sworn Israel’s destruction.”
The president will get another chance to lay out his vision for Middle East peace when he speaks before a group of the top Jewish movers and shakers on Sunday in Washington. Netanyahu will speak to the group on Monday and will also speak before the U.S. Congress.
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