(JNS.org) Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “mistake” to continue to ask for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in efforts to reach a peace agreement, marking a reversal of his position on the issue.
“I think it’s a mistake for some people to be raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude toward the possibility of a state, and peace, and we’ve obviously made that clear,” Kerry told a U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee budget hearing on Thursday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40, 30 mentions of ‘Jewish state,’” he added. “In addition, [PLO] chairman [Yasser] Arafat in 1988 and again in 2004 confirmed that he agreed it would be a Jewish state. And there are any other number of mentions.”
Last December in Jerusalem, Kerry had said he joined with President Barack Obama “in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself by itself, and that is an important principle with which the prime minister and the president and I are in agreement.”
Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key demands during the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations. Yet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently said there is “no way” he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and Nabil Elaraby, the head of the Arab League, called on Arab countries to take a “firm stand” against such recognition.
Israeli Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Kerry’s comments show he “does not understand the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which he purports to solve.” Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) said, “The secretary of state expects that we will completely dismantle both our strategic properties and our moral conviction.”
“At a time when the citizens of the State of Israel are being attacked by rockets, I would expect Kerry to be making clear statements against terror organizations instead of disputing the basic rights of the Jewish nation to its land,” said Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman (Habayit Hayehudi), according to Israel Hayom.