Nightly News | May 21, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: We want to turn now to the political fallout for President Obama 's suggestion that a future Middle East should return Israel to its 1967 borders. That has not gone over well, and NBC 's Mike Viqueira joins us live from the White House
with details. Mike: Good evening, Lester . White House aides and many outside experts insist it was nothing new, but after President Obama proposed using 44-year-old boundaries as a -- as the basis of a new Palestinian state , the controversy and the criticism haven't stopped. It was a blunt message delivered face to face in the Oval Office by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu .
MIKE VIQUEIRA reporting: While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible.
Prime Minister BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: President Obama said those same lines should be the basis for future boundaries between Israel and a new sovereign Palestine . After their meeting, Netanyahu was direct.
VIQUEIRA: A peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality.
Prime Minister NETANYAHU: The president played down any rift with a close ally.
VIQUEIRA: Obviously, there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that's going to happen between friends.
President BARACK OBAMA: And aides insist the president was stating a long-held position shared by all sides.
VIQUEIRA: Well, previous American presidents , from Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy Carter , all took much more severe positions on the issue of June '67 borders.
Mr. AARON DAVID MILLER (Former Middle East Peace Negotiator): The disagreement has quickly become a political football, with GOP presidential hopefuls piling on. "The president has thrown Israel under a bus," Mitt Romney said in a statement. "A mistaken and very dangerous demand," wrote Tim Pawlenty . And tea party stalwart Michele Bachmann called it "a shocking display of betrayal towards our ally."
VIQUEIRA: And the Republicans see an opportunity to break off from the Democrats some of Israel 's supporters in the US.
Mr. JEFFREY GOLDBERG (The Atlantic): But it's not just Republicans , as some normally staunch supporters are expressing concern.
VIQUEIRA: Why do we emphasize things that hurt our ally Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, who won't even negotiate face to face? It just makes no sense.
Representative ELIOT ENGEL (Democrat, New York): And, Lester , we can expect to hear a lot more on this in the coming days. Prime Minister Netanyahu stays on here in Washington . On Tuesday, he'll give a speech to a joint meeting of Congress . And tomorrow President Obama travels across town to give a speech on American - Israel relations to a major pro- Israel lobbying group. Lester :