Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has a fundamental problem with acknowledging Israel as a Jewish state — so much so that he’s willing to forfeit peace over it. Yet apparently Abbas has no qualms about defining Palestine religiously. The Constitution of Palestine, the document setting out the standards and structure for a future Palestinian state, unequivocally proclaims “Islam is the official religion in Palestine” and that “the principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.”
Hypocrisy much? Or is Abbas’ intransigence on recognizing Israel as a Jewish state less about principle and more about pretext?
The fact that Abbas has no issue with religiously defining a state sets off all kinds of alarm bells. One can only deduce this his issue lies solely with Israel being defined as Jewish. Which is why it’s a deal breaker for the Israeli side. If the Palestinian side cannot accept Israel’s Jewish identity, it means they fundamentally don’t accept the State of Israel.
This isn’t a stretch, and this isn’t simply a matter of semantics — as John Kerry seems to think.
Because at the same time that Abbas is participating in peace negotiations, he’s delivering speeches in the West Bank declaring that every Palestinian worldwide has the right to either return and settle in Israel itself, or receive compensation (presumably from the Israeli government).
Abbas claims that the PA’s willingness to negotiate along 1967 lines demonstrates Palestinian acceptance of an Israeli state. But if Abbas is telling Palestinians worldwide, including citizens of foreign countries, that they have the fundamental right to settle in Israel, is he respecting Israeli territorial integrity?
And this is the same Abbas and Palestinian Authority that regularly downplay or flat out deny a Jewish connection to the Holy Land. Palestinian Media Watch has collected myriad television programs, speeches and broadcast in which the Palestinian leadership — either in the form of Abbas or other key figures — term Jewish history in Jerusalem as “legend” or “illusion” and have gone so far as to call archeological finds proving Jewish life in the region as “forgeries.” These are not the words of credible partners who believe that Israel, as a Jewish state, has a right to exist.
Abbas’ intransigence on recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is symptomatic of the Palestinians’ general lack of commitment when it comes to brokering an honest peace. How can Israel trust a person who out of one side of his mouth talks of peace, but out of the other denies Judaism’s connection to Israel and encourages Palestinians the world over to overrun Israel?
Why can’t Israel be flexible on recognition as a Jewish state? Because its very existence is at stake.
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