The US State Department at the weekend issued a statement rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel's status as "the Jewish state" as a condition for renewing peace talks.
Netanyahu's demand was a response to American and European pressure that he publicly commit to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state as the outcome of the peace process. Netanyahu wants to ensure that if he bows to that pressure, the world understands and acknowledges that the other state west of the Jordan River is first and foremost the homeland of the Jews.
Netanyahu presented the demand when he met last Thursday with US envoy George Mitchell. But it was immediately rejected when Mitchell visited Ramallah on Friday to meet with the regime of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The international community has become accustomed to the Arabs rejecting all Israeli conditions for peace, while Israel routinely caves to pressure that it meet Arab demands. Netanyahu hopes to change that perception during his term, and thus reintroduce reciprocity to the peace process.
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