US weakens stance on recognition of Jewish state

State Department spokesman Jen Psaki: "No one is talking about an obligation"

State Department spokesman Jen Psaki: “No one is talking about an obligation”

Watch carefully as the US tilts more and more in the PLO direction:

Barack Obama, March 3, 2013:

Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security.

American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, February 21, 2014:

It’s too early to know what compromises and concessions both sides will make … But we do believe … that Israel deserves recognition as a Jewish state. That has always been US policy — that Israel is a Jewish state and should remain a Jewish state. That will be one of the elements of the framework we’re working on.

But here is State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on March 7, 2014:

MS. PSAKI: … And if you look at the issue of a Jewish state and whether Israel will be called a Jewish state, that’s been our position, as you know, for a long time, but that doesn’t reflect what the parties will agree to, which I know you know, and of course there are many issues like that that are being discussed as part of the framework. …

QUESTION: Okay. My question to you is: Why the Palestinians are obligated to recognize Israel as a Jewish state when all the other states that have relations with Israel and have recognized Israel since day one did not do the same?

MS. PSAKI: No one is talking about an obligation. We’re talking about a discussion and what’s being compromised as part of a discussion on a framework for negotiations.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. So you don’t see this as a precondition, then?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m done with your line of questioning.

Yeah, you can trust these guys, Mr. Netanyahu!

Let me add a word about why recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as the state of the Jewish people is important. We often hear the argument — even Abbas himself has made it — that Israel can define itself as whatever it wants and does not need the Palestinians to agree. Or, as the unnamed reporter above put it, why should the Palestinians be required to do more than other countries that have recognized the State of Israel?

The answer to the question “why does Israel think recognition as a Jewish state is necessary” lies in why Mahmoud Abbas refuses to grant it. And that is because after an agreement that gives Palestinians a state, it is his intention to press on for the remainder of their ‘rights’ — in particular, the admission of millions of descendents of Arab refugees into Israel.

The PLO position, expressed daily in its official media, is that Israel is an illegitimate colonial entity squatting on land that ‘belongs’ to a historic ‘Palestinian’ civilization. Abbas wrote in the NY Times in 2011 that if Palestine were admitted to the UN, he intended to continue to pursue its objectives in whatever forums were available:

Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.

It would be no different after an agreement with Israel, unless that agreement specifically included the termination of such claims, particularly the so-called ‘right of return’ for the descendents of refugees. That ‘right’ is premised on the claim of Arab ‘ownership’ of the land of Israel — which is precisely what recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people (even an Israel truncated to pre-1967 size) would relinquish.

The reason that negotiations between Israel and the PLO-based leadership of the Palestinian Arabs have failed since Oslo is that the aims of the sides are entirely different. Israel would like to trade land for an agreement to end the conflict, while the Arabs would like to obtain land for a base from which to continue the conflict. These are mutually exclusive.

Keep in mind also that except for careful statements made in English such as Abbas’ op-ed, we have no reason to believe that the conflict would not continue in its violent aspect as well as its diplomatic one after an agreement was signed — and a great deal of evidence that it would.

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One Response to “US weakens stance on recognition of Jewish state”

  1. Robman says:

    If Ms. Psaki were representing an administration that really did back Israel on the recognition issue, she could have simply answered, in response to the query about why other countries aren’t required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, quite simply and directly:

    “Because no one who now has diplomatic relations with Israel has ever explicitly denied Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, as the PA does in the Palestinian National Charter, and in numerous public pronouncements, that’s why.”

    This issue is not new. The Oslo Accords of ’93 would not have been signed by Israel under Rabin absent assurances by then Palestinian leader Arafat to the effect that the PNC would be amended to allow for formal Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state…a commitment he subsequently reneged on, of course.

    What is new is that for the past three plus years – ever since PM Netanyahu made this issue his condition for extending for another three months the nine-month “settlement freeze” that had just ended in September of ’10, he has made PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state the centerpiece of his political defense against the PA. And it has been very, very effective.

    Even Obama, a terrific sophist (about his only real talent outside of telling huge whoppers with a straight face), could not refute the logic of Netanyahu’s position. Initially, when Netanyahu first floated this to him in October of ’10, he and his people kicked and squirmed, accusing him of “stalling” and adopting an “extreme right-wing position”. But again, the logic was irrefutable, and Obama has had to at least concede that publicly in the interim. This is the main political reason, perhaps more than any other, that Israel has managed to successfully avoid either capitulating to Obama on this issue, or alternatively, facing an historic [Obama-manufactured] break in the U.S-Israeli alliance.

    Which is why Obama & Co. have been likely scheming night and day for a way to weasel out of this. A number of his proxies from academia have already published op-eds in Obama organs such as the NYT questioning the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, in order to undermine public support for this position.

    Obama is absolutely determined to force a Saudi-style agreement down Israel’s throat, or failing that, ‘throw Israel to the wolves’. As I’ve said before, and now maintain more strongly than ever, this is the entire purpose of his presidency. He will not let the recognition issue get in his way forever. He was already hinting at backpedaling on this issue during his recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, when he made assurances that Abbas was willing to recognize Israel to a degree that he thought should be enough for an agreement (i.e., even if the talks fall apart over this issue, IT IS STILL ISRAEL’S FAULT).

    Things are coming to a head. Netanyahu is not going to cave on this point. Abbas will be here in a week as I write this today, and the two of them, Obama and Abbas, will proceed to launch a joint public relations attack on that stubborn, intransigent Netanyahu who ‘doesn’t want peace’.

    The talks will fall apart completely within weeks or a couple of months at most. Obama will turn the issue over to the UN. The PA application for statehood that had been submitted to the UNSC in September of ’11, that has been in limbo ever since, will suddenly re-appear. The UNSC will vote on it, and the U.S. will abstain or vote in favor. Maybe China will veto, maybe even Russia will veto, but I’d hardly count on this. France and Britain sure as hell won’t. This is the green light for Intifada III, with Israel cast fully into the role as the oppressive colonial aggressor, by UN fiat (in complete disregard for international law, Oslo, or past relevant UNSCRs, including UNSCR 242 in particular). This, in turn, will be the tripwire for the sanctions, boycotts, etc., that Obama/Kerry have been threatening.

    And, this will be the green light for Israel to hit Iran, if she still can effectively, as she’ll have nothing to lose then. We can only hope.

    As to the rest, Israel can ride it out. A lot of countries will trade with her anyway. Congress won’t let the U.S. boycott Israel, no matter what Obama says. This will all blow up in his face.

    But, as long as Obama can leave the White House in January of ’17, to the waiting arms of his good buddy, Rashid Khalidi, who will laud him for his efforts, he won’t really care. That’s what this is all about to him, anyway.