President Obama massages Israel anger

President Barack Obama yesterday sought to soothe Israeli fury over his new Middle East peace proposals.

President Barack Obama yesterday sought to soothe Israeli fury over his new Middle East peace proposals by making clear that the Jewish state would likely be able to keep some settlements in any final deal with the Palestinians.

Obama, addressing Israel’s staunchest U.S. supporters, repeated his view that long-stalled peace talks should start on the basis of the Jewish state’s 1967 borders, an assertion that angered Israel, exposing a deep rift in its relations with Washington.

But Obama, in his speech to Washington’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, sought to ease tensions with the close U.S. ally, stressing that he expected the two sides to eventually negotiate an accord that includes land swaps accounting for the “new demographic realities,” signaling that Israel would be allowed to keep some settlements built on occupied land.