The Ed Show | March 21, 2013
>>> ed show. i'm michael in for ed. tonight, john boehner backs off background checks. and sexy chambliss doesn't support gay marriage because he doesn't plan on having one. and a crisis somewhere you never believe and the best borrow baptist church gets a new neighbor. first, president obama calls on young israelis to embrace peace . this is "the ed show." as ed would say, let's get to work. it was a passionate appeal for peace . after speaking with palestinians in the west bank , the president took his message to israel , delivering a major speech earlier calling for a two state solution in the middle east . this was the main event of mr. obama 's first trip to israel as leader of the free world . the president delivering what the administration called the centerpiece of the visit. the speech wasn't given in front of the israeli parliament where his predecessor spoke at his first trip, given at the convention center before an audience of students. the president's message was clear, peace is possible but in order to secure peace and security for the jewish state , compromise is essential.
>> negotiations will be necessary but there's a little secret about where they must lead. two states for two peoples. two states for two peoples. there will be differences how to get there. there will be hard choices along the way. for the moment, put aside the plans and the process, i ask you instead to think about what can be done to build trust between people.
>> mr. obama reassured israelis of america 's commitment but also delivered some tough love.
>> i also believe it's important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. politically, given the strong bipartisan support for israel in america , the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside, just express unconditional support for whatever israel decides to do, that would be the easiest political path. but i want you to know that i speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future. the only way for israel to endure and thrive as a jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable palestine. that is true.
>> mr. obama made his case for brokering peace with the palestinians by painting it as a civil rights issue in personal term terms.
>> put yourself in their shoes. look at the world through their eyes. it is not fair that a palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. spending their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people , their parents and grandparents every single day. neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. just as israelis built a state in their homeland, palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.
>> mr. obama also stressed the unbreakable alliance between israel and the utsz.
>> make no mistake, those who adhere to the ideologically of rejecting israel 's right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above because israel 's not going anywhere. today, i want to tell you, particularly the young people , so that there's no mistake here, so long as there is a united states of america , [ speaking foreign language ] . you are not alone.
>> the speech was reminiscent of remarks the president gave in cairo in 2009 , something mr. obama himself took note of.
>> four years ago i stood in cairo in front of an audience of young people politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. but the things they want, they're not so different from what the young people here want. they want the ability to make their own decisions and get an education and get a good job and worship god in their own way, to get married, raise family. the same is true of those young palestinians i met with this morning. the same is true for young palestinians who yearn for a better life in gaza. that's where peace begin, not just in the plans of leaders but in the hearts of people.
>> this was mr. obama 's chance to appeal to a new generation of israelis and to reach out to them in a personal way, something his critics charge he hasn't done before. in many ways it was vintage obama . the world witnessed the return of the hope and change go from 20from -- change guy from 2008 .
>> let me say this as a politician. i can promise you this. political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. you must create the change that you want to see. ordinary people can accomplish compare things.
>> get your cell phones out. i want to know what you think. tonight's question. will the middle east take president obama 's message of compromise to heart? text a for yes, text b for no. 66672 or go to our blog. i'll bring you the results later in the know. i'm jointed by hillary lever vitt, professor of american foreign policy . she specialized in affairs at the state department during the clinton and bush administrations and joined by matt center for american progress . seems like i just spoke to you last night. tell us what this speech means. does this mean the administration is willing to put forth a serious effort towards brokering peace in the middle east and specifically between israelis and palestinians or is this a tremendous speech that doesn't have the substance necessary to carry forth?
>> i think it is a speech that underscores obama 's speech in rhetoric. unfortunately i don't think it was tremendous in substance. the key aspects what's really necessary for a two state solution, halt to settlements, that was completely dropped from obama 's prior substance filled speeches. unfortunately this plan or idea isn't going anywhere.
>> why did he drop it? didn't want to insult the israelis to their face? didn't want to challenge them that toughly?
>> i think the whole trip was not to make peace in the middle east to make peace with congress at home to pursue a domestic agenda to get work done here in the united states , a realization he needs congress behind him and congressman and senators won't take politically difficult positions in domestic issues if they feel he is jeopardizing their back on israel . it was to have a good visit in israel and have good photo ops and have a better relationship with congress.
>> interesting. we'll get back to that. the speech received praise from left leaning israel lobby is in the united states . israel 's presidency money psimone perez was a fan. how is there regigering of the map because the geopolitics in that terrain are extremely volatile. what gives?
>> i have to disagree with hillary a little bit. the president did specifically call out settlements as not conducive to peace in this speech today and referenced the may speech he made about border and security the 67 line speech he got a lot of criticism for. i was pleasant ly surprised he didn't reference that as basis for negotiations. and many are asking will the president weigh in on this in a big way. the answer was yes, he we'd in a very impressive way. the question coming out of this what is the policy followed through? that's where the questions remain. i think what the president made clear today this issue remains high on his agenda, his analysis of the israel-palestinian conflict remains it is something that negatively impacts u.s. national security and u.s.'s ability to achieve its goals. at this point having done what he needs to do, assuring israelis of his own support to their security and committed to resolving this issue we might see a handoff to senatcretary of state kerry who will be remaining in the region.
>> secretary of state john kerry was critical at this administration's lack of peace making. now that he's secretary of state does this auger well of new posture of diplomacy aimed toward creating peace in this volatile region.
>> it would. it would be fortuitous. he was not president obama 's first choice. that's not the strategy here. the strategy is focused on 2014 to get a domestic agenda done. if secretary kerry can make nice noises in the region, that's fine.
>> you're kind of cynical. you think this is all smoke and mirrors .
>> i was in it on both sides in the first clinton administration when there was a lot of fanfare in 1993 , dialogue and direct negotiations would take off. they didn't until after clinton, after he was re-elected in the mid-terms in 1998 , didn't take off until then. same thing in the george w. bush administration i was also a professional middle east advisor there. i just think it's not going to happen. there was no discussion here about halting settlements critical. you can say they're critical, make me uncomfortable. it's not talking about the 67 borders. those are things needed for the say. we get confused for our hope for peace and reality for a state . what palestinians want and need and arabs and muslims want and need is a state for the palestinians . whether peace comes, too, that's secondary. they want and need a state . the requirements for a state are 67 borders and halt to settlement activity. the other piece here that obama said clearly, i think should give us some caution, is the palestinians should drop their push to push this to the united nations and do it through this direct dialogue and direct negotiations and dialogue.
>> not very likely.
>> that's never happened. we had 20 years of direct dialogue. it's never happened. the key for the u.n. so critical for palestinians is they could take their state hood to the international criminal court and get a directive on the international human rights issue and preoccupation an president obama said no.
>> given what the professor has indicated, do you think there's any possibility obama makes any progress. if all the conditions ex-exist for successful negotiations for peace , does it bolster israelis there and america sympathizers with israel and also want to see a broader push for palestinian rights to be acknowledged?
>> i think what we saw today was, yes, this remains a key item on the president's foreign agenda. there were real questions whether he would weigh in on this. the answer is, yes. there are a number of questions given the breakdown and trust that occurred between israelis and palestinians in the past few years. the palestinian authority is in dire need of support, seen its credibility wane with its own people in relation to hamas. what will happen is secretary kerry will look for various ways, what are the ways back to the negotiations. i agree they focus on direct negotiations and the end itself is not productive, very possible that might not be the right move we're looking for ways for the palestinian authority to sustain them but not for two states. the goal is two states for two people. going back to what the president said today, a lot of people made the argument because of transitions of arab spring and revolutions and the war in syria, now is not the time for bold move towards peace making. what the president said today was the palestinian issue becomes more salient not less salient because of the changes we're seeing in the region and i thought that was pretty bold.
>> you've already talked about the settlement issue. let's listen to what president obama said about israel stop building on the west settlement banks as a precondition to peace talks.
>> if the expectation is that we can only have negotiations, when everything is settled ahead of time, then there's no point for negotiations.
>> the president was also critical of the israel settlement policy. at this point, is compromise even possible, because he's standing in israel , saying they have to have some kind of negotiations, is that just great political rhetoric or mean anything that can have any substance and bite that challenges them to follow through on that?
>> i think the idea of negotiations, any idea even of a peace process is very much about the domestic politics here to make us feel better about our policies there. to get a state is not something you beg and plead the occupier to give you. that's not how a state gets formed. it's unrealistic, we tried it for 20 years. it's failed. what obama is trying to do, in israel , went to ramallah and the west bank . he said the bare minimum what he needed to say to the palestinians but comes nowhere close to getting a state necessary to resolve the conflict and rescue america 's broader position in the middle east .
>> what would it have looked like had he been serious.
>> it would have contained a clear reference to 1967 borders and clear reference to opposition settlement activity and not said clearly we oppose palestinians going through the united nations . that's the only way to avert violence. the only non-violent way out is to get their legal case heard before any international court . otherwise they will resort to violence and no way to get out of the occupation.
>> this is powerful. i want to thank hillary and matt for their tremendous contributions tonight.
>>> remember to answer tonight's questions at the bottom of the screen and share your thoughts on twitter and facebook. i want to know what you think.
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