Washington's About Face on the Jewish State?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 |  Ryan Jones

It would appear as though the Obama Administration is rescinding its earlier support for Israel’s peace condition that the Palestinian Authority officially recognize it as the Jewish state.

In a interview with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Saturday, US State Department Spokeswoman Jan Psaki explained that “the American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state. However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement.”

However, in late January, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is close to the White House, wrote that Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East peace proposal would call on the Palestinians to “recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” as one of the core concessions necessary for a final status peace agreement.

The White House stresses that Kerry’s proposal is still not finalized, but the discrepancy between Psaki’s remarks and Friedman’s column suggest that the Obama Administration could be succumbing to Palestinian pressure and altering its proposal to lean more toward the Arab agenda.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that he will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and threatened to quit the peace talks over that and other US-backed Israeli conditions.

“They are pressing and saying, ‘No peace without the Jewish state,’” Abbas told student activists in Ramallah last week. “There is no way. We will not accept.”

On Sunday, Arab League head Nabil Elaraby told Al-Arabiya that he fully backs Abbas’ position, and is calling for all Arab countries to take a “firm stand” against Israel’s demand to be recognized as the Jewish state.

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