Bibi and Barack, the Sequel

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I’ve already registered my skepticism that not much will come of Obama’s assertion yesterday that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

The statement is not, as many are claiming today, a demand for a return to pre-1967 borders: 1967 lines refer at most to the deployment of Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian forces on the eve of the 1967 war. Nor is it, as many other are claiming, the first time an American President has called for a return to those lines: Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter all did.

Most of all, the statement is not a radical departure from prior U.S. policy and it will not change much in the run-up to September’s vote on Palestinian statehood at the UN.

It’s worth keeping all that in mind as the theatrics unfold around the meeting this morning between Netanyahu and Obama at the White House. I wrote a lengthy profile of their relationship a year ago, and it will be interesting to watch how deeply the two men allow themselves to get tied up in personal disputes today.

The substance of the disagreement between them today is really negligible–if there are problems between them — public, private or leaked — it says more about the relationship than about the reality in Israel and Palestine.

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