President Obama vowed an "unbreakable" commitment to Israel during remarks to the pro-Israeli lobby Sunday, while dismissing the controversy surrounding his push for the country to return to its pre-1967 borders.
Speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, Obama said,“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state."
Those remarks brought scattered boos, though the president received a mostly warm reception just 48 hours Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Obama's conditions during an Oval Office meeting.
Obama used the AIPAC appearance to smooth over the schism between the U.S. and its closest ally in the Middle East.
"By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967," he said. "If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately."
Republicans have seized on Obama's comments, saying the president should not pander to Palestinians, who recently signed a power-sharing agreement with the virulently anti-Israel terrorist organization Hamas.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is scheduled to speak during the conference later Sunday.
According to prepared remarks, Cantor said, "The root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not about '67 lines. It's about the Palestinians' and the broader Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Until Israel's enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible. ... Israel deserves America's friendship in reality - not just in rhetoric. Words and promises come and go. Only deeds count."