Jerusalem, Not Off the Table

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My mistake. Obama’s Jerusalem comment does not seem to have been vetted by his Middle East brains trust. All he meant to say, er, was, well, as the Jerusalem Post has it:

But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes “Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties” as part of “an agreement that they both can live with.”
“Two principles should apply to any outcome,” which the adviser gave as: “Jerusalem remains Israel’s capital and it’s not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967.”

It all depends on the meaning of “undivided.” And Obama had in mind not the classic hardline Israeli formula but the (Bill) Clintonesque “open access” formula. So the AIPAC types are less happy and the Palestinians are less upset and the basic U.S. position that this is a final status issue for the parties is reverted to and Obama’s greenness on this most minefield-laden of foreign policy issues is revealed. (Thanks by the way to Premil Cindy for pushing me on this is a couple of emails.)

  • Premil Cindy

    If you’re curious, I left my take on this over on today’s FP Passport blog post that asked “Did Obama Backtrack on Jerusalem?”, where I gave my rationale for answering “No, he did not.” I’m the lone comment over there, so it’s easy to find!