The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people was raised for the first time about 18 months ago in talks between Israel and the United States ahead of the Annapolis Conference. Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that the conference's closing statement mention a nation-state solution, a formulation meant to neutralize a Palestinian demand for refugees' right of return.I remember when Obama paid his obligatory respects to AIPAC whilst on the campaign trail he said that "Israel must remain Jewish". It's bizarre that the aspiring leader of the world's most powerful democratic secular state could make such a statement. It was sad to have a man whose ethnicity generated such excitement with his "hope and change" agenda, could announce that Israel has to remain segregated, sectarian and theocratic. But America isn't forcing the Palestinians to sign away their birthright just yet and that policy began under Bush. All very surprising, unless of course I've missed something, which happens....
However, the Bush administration accepted the Palestinian objection that the issue should be subject to negotiation. The PLO leadership also told the United States that it supported unequivocally the Saudi peace initiative that includes a clause in favor of a just and agreed-on solution to the refugee problem in keeping with U.N. Resolution 194.
That resolution calls for the right of refugees to return at the earliest practicable date and compensation for those who choose not to return. The Arab League meeting last month appended a comment to its closing statement that its initiative does not include the right of return for refugees.
A few weeks before Yasser Arafat died in 2004, he told Haaretz that he understood that Israel is a Jewish state. However, he said on a number of occasions that official recognition by the PLO of this fact would hurt the status and feelings of the Palestinian minority in Israel. He said it was not the Palestinians' business to define the identity of another country.
April 19, 2009
This is interesting. Well I think so anyway. The US state department isn't insisting on the Palestinians recognising Israel as state specially for Jews and not for all of its people. This isn't the old chestnut about Hamas refusing to recognise Israel, this is a different thing. Here's Ha'aretz: