(JNS.org) Israeli President Shimon Peres has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state “unnecessary” and a possible impediment to Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, Israel Hayom reported.
In conversations with diplomatic and political officials in recent weeks, Peres said it was possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians now, with American assistance. Despite the relationship between Netanyahu and Peres being described as “strained” of late, Peres publicly aims to maintain a unified front and does not contradict Netanyahu’s stance that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state. In public, Peres states that Israel is a Jewish country, although he says its security will be assured only with the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Peres’s office has declined comment on the matter. His stance is similar to that of Yesh Atid party chairman and Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who last month called the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state “nonsense.”
Netanyahu addressed the issue on Tuesday at a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“Here’s the core of the conflict and here is the key to its solution: The core of the conflict is not settlements; the core of the conflict is not the territories; the core of the conflict is not the absence of a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said. “The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal to reconcile to an independent nation-state of the Jewish people.”
“If the Palestinians expect me and my people to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, surely we can expect them to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people. After all, we've only been here four millennia. That’s it; that’s what this is about,” Netanyahu added.