Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State

Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State

Last weekend US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and stated that the issue should not derail the peace process and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Netanyahu has demanded Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition to negotiations. The Geneva Initiative offers a different reciprocal formula to resolve this issue. You can read below the perspective of two different commentators who also relate to the Geneva Initiative formula.

 
The two part Geneva Initiative formula is:
 
"Affirming that this agreement marks the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to statehood and the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, without prejudice to the equal rights of the Parties’ respective citizens"
 
"The Parties recognize Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples. The Parties are committed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs."
 
 
 
 
Kerry tries to defuse 'recognition as Jewish state' time bomb that threatens talks
 
Haaretz, 15.3.2014
 
Contrary to some reports in the Israeli press, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn’t distanced himself completely from the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state: He has only tried to put it in its proper place. In advance of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Washington this week, Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday that the demand should not be the end-all and be-all of the peace process, or, as he put it, the “critical decider” of attitudes towards “the possibility of state and peace.”
 
But Kerry knows, or should know, that he may be trying to bolt the barn doors after the horses have fled. It was the Americans, from President Obama on down, who almost nonchalantly adopted the demand for recognition and allowed it to become a peace process mantra and a new rallying cry for Israeli supporters in Congress, in the American Jewish establishment and in both Israeli and American public opinions. But after committee members repeatedly badgered him about it, Kerry exposed his belated awareness that this supposedly marginal issue was a ticking time bomb threatening to derail his entire diplomatic initiative.
 
The United States initially thought that the recognition issue could be resolved without too much difficulty, based on some of the past “acknowledgements” mentioned by Kerry in his testimony on Thursday: the 1947 UN Partition Resolution and various interviews given by Yasser Arafat in which he “agreed with” Israel’s Jewish character. The Geneva Accords, not mentioned by Kerry but concluded with the knowledge of the Palestinian leadership, includes in its preamble “the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to statehood and the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, without prejudice to the equal rights of the Parties' respective citizens.”
 
From an article by Amir Tibon, in the weekend magazine of the Walla news site (14.3.14).
translation by Geneva Initiative
 
Arafat did not hesitate to declare that Israel is a "Jewish State", even in an interview that he gave to Haaretz in 2004. In the same interview he was asked by the journalists David Landau and Akiva Eldar if Israel should continue to be a Jewish state, and he answered "definitely." The interviewers repeated the question and Arafat repeated his positive and decisive answer, and emphasized that the Palestinians had in practice already given such recognition, in the decision by the Palestinian National Council in 1988.
 
It is important to emphasize that within the framework of the Geneva Initiative in 2003, the Palestinian side agreed to a formulation that makes clear that Israel is a Jewish state. While this was an unofficial agreement, which was signed by politicians, senior former security officials and intellectuals from both sides, but the Palestinian signatories included senior officials from the Palestinian Authority, including Yasser Abed Rabbo and Jibril Rajoub, who are considered supporters of Abu Mazen. Within the agreement the Palestinians recognized the rights of the Jewish people to a state, "without prejudice to the equal rights" of [Israel's] Arab citizens. The agreement also included a clause that states "Israel and Palestine are the homelands of their respective peoples".