With his customary grace and bigheartedness, Mahmoud Abbas, now in his ninth (or it is tenth?) year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority, told the PLO’s Central Council April 26 that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The PLO recognized Israel as a state in 1993, he said, and should not have to accept its religious identity. Neither Egypt nor Jordan was required to recognize Israel’s Jewish character when they signed peace treaties with Israel, so why should the Palestinians? he asked rhetorically.
Here’s why: Neither Egypt nor Jordan demanded that Israel grant citizenship to some five million Palestinians living outside of Israel and the West Bank. Neither Egypt nor Jordan demanded a “right of return.” Neither Egypt nor Jordan claimed that multigeneration descendants of Arabs in 1948 (who didn’t consider or call themselves Palestinians at that time), who left Palestine in the war against the nascent State of Israel initiated by the Arabs, have an inalienable right to return to Palestine. Neither Egypt nor Jordan sought to reverse history by demanding that the State of Israel commit suicide by importing millions of Palestinians who never lived there.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA, however, demands a Palestinian “right of return,” that is, the right to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. That is why he, but neither Egypt nor Jordan, is required to recognize the Jewish character of Israel. In fact, the entire issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state only arose when the Palestinians demanded a “right of return.” Neither Egypt nor Jordan raised the issue, which is why the Jewish character of Israel was not raised by Israel in its bilateral negotiations with Egypt and Jordan.
Read related IJN blog posting, "Your views on recognizing Israel’s Jewish identity"
In sum, Israel’s demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state came in response to the Palestinian demand for a Palestinian “right of return.” The shoe is on Abbas’ foot. Don’t expect him to recognize this. On the idea of a permanent peace with a Jewish state, Abbas is purblind.
Likewise, Secretary of State John Kerry, in an equally dangerous way.
He told the Daily Beast, “A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”
Apartheid? As in Israel, by policy and choice, denying Arabs under its jurisdiction the right to vote? the right to Israeli tax monies? the right to live where they wish? the right to travel where they wish? the right to emigrate? the right to recourse to the courts?
Sorry, Mr. Secretary, even under a worse-case scenario of a “unitary state,” it would bear no relation to the apartheid state of South Africa. Shame on you for joining Jimmy Carter, among others, in contributing to the international delegitimation of Israel. Your own purblindness matches Abbas’.
Not to mention, Israel wants a two-state solution. Israel offered the Palestinians a two-state solution in 2000 at Camp David and again in 2008. Both times, the Palestinians rejected it.
And, let us be perfectly clear, the Palestinians were offered it in the recently suspended negotiations of 2013 and 2014, too; but they, not Israel, rejected it.
How so? Was it not Israel who refused to release another 26 Palestinian prisoners on March 29, as previously agreed? Was it not Israel that set in motion the diplomatic tit-for-tat that led to the current impasse?
Actually, not. As follows:
When Israel and the Palestinians agreed to negotiate last year, the Palestinians were required to make no concession and no gesture to Israel. Israel, on the other hand, was required to release Palestinians murderers — in return for what? For a meaningful negotiation. But they didn’t get it. They got, instead, the Palestinians insistence, among other things, on a “right of return” (see above) — which would mean the end of the Jewish state of Israel.
Here you have it: Palestinian genius, not at building its own economy, not at building a state, not at improving its own lot, but at public relations. The PA first gets Israel to release Palestinians murderers — a concrete gain for the PA — while offering Israel no concrete gain in return. Then, when Israel wisely wakes up and says to itself: Why release more prisoners when the PA has made it perfectly clear it will never agree to a Jewish state, nor even regard a peace treaty with Israel as an “end the conflict” and “final settlement of all claims”? But, in return for Israel’s quite rational refusal go move forward on a “peace” process that didn’t promise peace, Kerry and President Obama administration choose to blame “both sides.”
Kerry was simply outraged that Israel insisted on the Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state —it scuttled his much coddled negotiations, which pundits around the word said from the beginning were doomed, given the Palestinian refusal to move off square one: its abhorrence, not of openly declared Islamic states, but of a single Jewish state.
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