A Prime Minister's Bottom Line

Israel's prime minister was very clear in explaining his bottom lines - and his red lines - for the peace

"In the framework of the permanent solution," he said, "we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Isfrael
as a Jewish state" and "alongside it, a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian
residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank."

He continued: "We wouldlike this to be an entity which is less than a state and which will ipdependently run the
lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution,
will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines."
Furthermore, the prime minister insisted a final agreement would include the following provisions:

"A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev as the capital
of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty....

"B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that

"C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which
are in the area east of what was the 'Green Une' prior to the Six-Day War.

"D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.
Some might view this speech as "hardline. Indeed, if not for the reference to Gush Katif - the southern Gaza
settlement bloc evacuated by Ariel Sharon in 2005 - one could imagine that this speech might have been given
by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the speech was actually delivered by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Yitzhak Rabin in the Knesset, one month
before his November 1995 assassination. Rabin, the former prime minister now revered for his commitment to
peace, held positions that are largely identical to those expressed by the current Israeli government, which the
Obama administration and much of the world are now busy castigating.

No one today doubts Rabin's commitment to peace, yet he saw very clearly the strategic, political and
demographic dangers Israel faced and was prepared to go no further than Netanyahu is today in making
concessions to the Palestinians on key issues. Netanyahu's insistence on an Israeli presence in the Jordan
Valley echoes Rabin, as does his insistence on retaining settlement blocs and a united Jerusalem. Netanyahu is
now actually more forthcoming than Rabin had been: The prime minis ter has accepted the idea of establishing
a Palestin ian state, whereas Rabin said that the Palestinians would get something "less than a state."

Rabin also strongly objected to American pressure on Israel. It was reported (and widely repeated) that Israeli
Ambassador Michael Oren called the current tensions with the United States the worst crisis in relations
between the two allies since 1975. Though Oren later denied making this statement, it's worth recalling that the
1975 crisis occurred when Rabin was prime minister and resisted secretary of State Henry Kissinger's effort to
coerce him into making concessions to Egypt. Another important precedent set by Rabin was to negotiate an
agreement with the Palestinians - what became known as the Oslo Accords - without the knowledge or
involvement of the United States.

Rabin gave his 1995 speech in order to urge Knesset members to ratify the so-called Oslo II agreement. He
was speaking at a time of great optimism, when many Israelis believed that peace was at hand. Today, we live
in a very different time. We have experienced the failure of Oslo, more than a decade of terrorist attacks against
Israel, the fallout from the disengagement from Gaza and the unwillingness of the Palestinians to even sit at the
bargaining table.

The Obama administration, those cheering its criticism of Israel and those who believe that America should
impose a solution on the Jewish state should re-read Rabin's words. And they should show Netanyahu's
reiterations of Rabin's views the respect they deserve as the legitimate expression of the consensus view of
what Israel can - and cannot - be expected to concede for peace.