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Author Topic: US Rejects "Jewish State" Peace Condition  (Read 810 times)
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« on: Apr 19, 2009 10:50 PM »

US Rejects "Jewish State" Peace Condition

By & Newspapers

"Such a condition is unaccepted by the administration," Mitchell (L) reportedly told Israeli leaders. (Reuters)
CAIRO — The Obama administration opposes a demand by hawkish Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu that Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state or there would be no peace talks with them, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday, April 19.

"Such a condition is unaccepted by the administration as Washington promotes a two-state solution," President Barack Obama's Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell told Israeli leaders during his visit to Tel Aviv last week.

The remark came in response to requests from Israel's new far-right cabinet asking the US to pressurize Palestinians into recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

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Netanyahu, who opposes the creation of a viable Palestinian state, has made that recognition a precondition for resuming the stalled peace process.

Almost 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in dozens of refugee camps across the Middle East.

Recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state" and a homeland for the Jewish people would kill stone dead any hopes for them to return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The return of refugees, who either fled their homes or were forced to leave when Israel was created on the rubble of Palestine in 1948, is protected by UN resolutions.

This recognition could be also used to transfer Israeli Arabs, descendants of Palestinians who stayed after the creation of Israel.

Though legally considered citizens, Arabs, estimated at 1.5 million or 20 percent of Israel's 7.3 million population, face discrimination in all walks of life.

Incumbent Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist, anti-Arab racist, has long called for "transferring" Israeli Arabs to a future Palestinian state.


Palestinian officials who have for years supported peace negotiations with Israel were furious at the Netnyahu's demand.

"(This is) an admission by the Israeli prime minister that he cannot deliver on peace," chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

He noted that while Palestinians had already recognized Israel's right to exist when the Palestinian Authority signed the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel still opposes a Palestinian state.

Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of Fatah parliamentary bloc, warned that Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table until Netanyahu accepts the US-sponsored two-state solution.

"This demand illustrates the racist nature of Israel and the extremist policies of its government," he said.

"It also shows that Israel is not serious about making peace with its neighbors."

Omar al-Ghul, an adviser to Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, described Netanyahu's demand was part of a scheme to transfer Palestinians to another country.

"No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand even if the whole world recognizes Israel as a Jewish state," he stressed.

"The state of Israel belongs to all its citizens, the Palestinians owners of the land and the Jews living there."
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009 05:11 AM »

- Obama Administration Takes Stronger Line With Israel

The rhetorical exhortations this week from the Obama administration and the Netanyahu administration in Israel have been notably unaligned, fulfilling fears that the new, right-leaning Israeli government may present additional difficulties for US foreign policy interests in the region. The dissonance between the two administrations' goals for Israeli-Palestinian peace is centered around both the concept of a two-state solution, as well as Israel's alleged disinclination to cease or reverse the "settlements" into areas designated for Palestinians.

Monday of this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave a speech in Rome wherein he called for peace between Israelis and Palestinians; however, he did not mention or endorse a two-state solution that would give the Palestinians their own, autonomous state, the Financial Times reports.

Likewise, Lieberman's boss, Prime Minister Netanyahu, has yet to come out and explicitly support a two-state situation as well -- much to the chagrin of US officials. According to Times Online:

    Mr Netanyahu has dismayed American, Arab and European officials by pointedly refusing to back Palestinian statehood since taking office on March 31. In his own speech to Aipac, sent via satellite link, he said: "We are prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions -- the sooner the better." Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, however, criticised Mr Netanyahu's speech for its "vagueness" on core issues such as the status of Jerusalem and refugees, as well as its failure to commit to a two-state solution.

As such, the Obama administration sought to make it clear Tuesday, with respectful but strong statements, that revealed little patience for Israeli recalcitrance on these core issues. According to a press release, Vice President Biden, speaking to the leading Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Tuesday, expressed the following hope for a viable plan, but warned against Israel's current and past attitudes towards the "settlements":

    The Palestinian Authority must combat terror and incitement against Israel. The United States and its partners have provided funding and training for a reformed Palestinian security force, which has impressed everyone, including the Israeli security officers with its recent demonstrations of professionalism and effectiveness. We are right now seeking funds from Congress to expand this program. But Israel has to work towards a two-state solution. You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts, and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement based on their first actions -- (applause) -- its access to economic opportunity and increased security responsibility. This is a "show me" deal -- not based on faith -- show me. Prime Minister Netanyahu has important ideas about how to achieve some of these objectives and we look forward to working with him to help develop them when he comes to visit.

Biden's remarks come a week after additional remarks from key players within the administration, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and National Security Advisor James Jones, that equally stressed the need for a two-state solution. According to Haaretz:

    Gen. James Jones, national security adviser to President Barack Obama, told a European foreign minister a week ago that unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be "forceful" with Israel.

    Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told an AIPAC conference last night that two states for two peoples is the only solution the United States is committed to.

The new approach is regarded as a significant change from the Bush years, where critics insist that administration was far to supine in its policies towards Israel.
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