Senator Blunt has expressed concern about President Obama’s offer of economic incentives for Arab countries making the transition to democracy.
Blunt, in a speech on the Senate floor, outlined conditions he believes should be met to receive American aid. The basic: terrorism must be rejected. He told Senate colleagues countries should devise a credible plan to improve their economies and reduce poverty.
“Lack of access to economic opportunity has been the driving force behind what’s happened in these countries,” Blunt asserted. “It was not about us. It was not about Israel. It was about jobs and food and economic opportunity.”
Other conditions outlined by Blunt include supporting the rule of law, respecting minorities and religions, initiating democratic reform, respected international norms and committing to regional peace.
“Israel has both the most to gain and the most to lose as new attitudes toward freedom and democracy spread throughout the Middle East,” according to Blunt.
Blunt rejecte the president’s insistence that Israel’s borders prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war be the basis of Israeli-Palestinian talks. Obama stated in a recent address that the borders prior to the war, adjusted to account for some Israeli settlement in the West Bank, should be the basis of a two-state deal. Obama has unveiled a plan to swap land for disputed territory.
“In particular, I’m concerned that the president believes that unilateral concessions by Israel, including redefining its borders are a pathway to peace. I just simply don’t think that makes sense,” Blunt said.
Israel has rejected the president’s suggestion, stating that the pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.”