White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday downplayed tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the terms of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Carney said it's been the case for decades that the 1967 lines will serve as the basis of peace negotiations and that they were not a new position for the Obama administration. He also dismissed talk that Netanyahu was angered by Obama's decision to speak about it during his address Thursday, saying that the Israelis had been notified beforehand.
"I'm not sure that I accept that [Netanyahu] was mad. I think they had an excellent exchange," Carney told reporters at his daily press briefing.
Obama and Netanyahu met in the Oval Office Friday and afterward noted there are disagreements between the two sides over substantive issues, namely Obama's call that talks be based on territorial lines drawn before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
According to several reports, Netanyahu was reportedly upset with the speech. He issued a statement Thursday that rejected a return to the 1967 borders and said that Obama should abide by former President George W. Bush's 2004 statement that says Israel should have "secure and recognizable borders" as part of a final peace settlement.
This is "not some radical new departure," Carney said of the lines. "That is a formulation that has been understood by parties to these negotiations … for years. He felt it was important to articulate that.
"There is nothing that the president said yesterday that contradicts the 2004 letters between President Bush and [former Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon."
Carney chalked up talk that Obama took a new position on the peace negotiations to distortions, pointing to an Associated Press article that Obama "sided with the Palestinians' opening position" that the borders of "their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war."
"You can perceive or misinterpret what the president said or you can look at what he said," Carney said.