While some have contended this merely states prior policy, there is an important shift. Prior policy emphasized the 1967 borders as the starting point, not the end point, and did not condition Israel keeping land in what is now the West Bank on Israel giving up other land.
Rather, in 2004 George W. Bush assured Israel (h/t Jake Tapper) that Israel would not be forced back to the pre-1967 border (emphasis mine):
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.So this represents a major coup for the Palestinians.
Without Palestinians having to make any concessions on the so-called "right of return" or Jerusalem or reparations or anything, Obama has handed the Palestinians a major territorial victory which violates promises made just seven years ago by a President of the United States.
The destructive nature of the speech is made even worse because it rewards bad behavior, including the recent Fatah coalition with Hamas and the breach of Israel's borders organized by Syria and Hezbollah.
Obama first should have done no harm. Instead, first he did harm to the peace process. Intransigence works.
Update: I should have mentioned in the text that the 2004 letter from Bush linked above was in connection with Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, which as we now know resulted in an Iranian proxy on Israel's southern border. So to go back on those pledges is particularly onerous because it shows Israel that land for peace not only is a joke as far as the Palestinians are concerned, but also that U.S. assurances as inducements for territorial withdrawal cannot be relied on.
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