US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday said it was wrong for Israel to insist upon being recognized by the Palestinians as a “Jewish state” as a condition for peace.
“I think it’s a mistake for some people to be, you know, raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace, and we’ve obviously made that clear,” Kerry told the congressional House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Kerry’s remarks would seem to be an about face from Washington’s position on the matter just over a month ago.
In late January, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is close to the White House, wrote that 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 discrepancy suggests 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. 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.
For Israel, the condition is a critical one because official recognition of a Jewish state by the Palestinian Authority would mean that the Arabs finally accept Israel’s right to exist in the region as the national homeland of the Jewish people, thereby precluding (presumably) any future attempts to destroy it.