Netanyahu’s absurd demand that Israel be recognized ‘as a Jewish state’

M.J. Rosenberg writes: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a major speech the other day at Bar Ilan University. Most of it was saber rattling at Iran. But enough of it was about the Palestinians to steel my belief that negotiating with Netanyahu is a waste of time and that Kerry’s initiative is a charade.

The centerpiece of his discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was this: his demand that Palestinians recognize Israel “as a Jewish state.”

This is the nation state of the Jewish people….Recognize the Jewish state. As long as you refuse to do so, there will never be peace. Recognize our right to live here in our own sovereign state, our nation state – only then will peace be possible. I emphasize this here – this is an essential condition.

It’s a new demand, one that only became Israeli policy when Netanyahu came to office. Every prime minister prior to Netanyahu only demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel. But then, on September 9, 1993, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat sent this statement to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (in exchange for Rabin’s recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people). This agreement stands to this day and is recognized as binding by both sides.

The PLO recognizes the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself to the peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues related to final status will be resolved through negotiations.

This commitment — encompassing Palestinian acceptance of Israel’s three long-standing conditions – led to Rabin’s agreement to begin negotiations with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu, who was then leader of the Likud opposition, vehemently opposed Rabin’s acceptance of Arafat’s concessions and began a campaign of incitement against Rabin himself. He understood then, as he does now, that Palestinian recognition of Israel meant that the largest obstacle to a land-for-peace agreement was gone. [Continue reading…]

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