In a surprising turn of events, the United States is shifting its policy when it comes to the Palestinian Authority recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
In an interview with PA Al-Quds newspaper, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki insinuated that the United States does not think there is a need for the PA to recognize Israel as part of a final peace agreement.
“The American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state. However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement,” Psaki said.
Psaki confirmed that the framework peace agreement was still being negotiated. “The framework agreement has not yet been finalized. Therefore any publications about it are pure speculation,” Psaki stated.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stood firm in his insistence that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In a recent speech to AIPAC, Netanyahu addressed Palestinian leaders and their refusal to recognize Israel.
“Recognize it. No excuses. No delays. It’s time,” Netanyahu stated.
“President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state, and in doing so, you would be telling your people, the Palestinians, that while we might have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute,” the prime minister told the audience at AIPAC. “In recognizing the Jewish state, you would finally be making clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict.”
In a recent interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu said he viewed any final status negotiations as premature at this point in time.
“First let’s see if they [PA] are even willing to negotiate. From what I see, they are very far from this. They think they can continue with their acts of refusal – to go with demands to the United Nations and to distance themselves from the question of what their concessions are, how will they recognize a Jewish state,” he said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. On Friday, at a meeting with students in Ramallah, Abbas again confirmed that the PA would never recognize Israel.
Israel Radio reported that Abbas told young members of the Fatah movement that there was “no way” he or the Palestinians would ever recognize Israel.
“They are pressing and saying, ‘no peace without the Jewish state,’” Abbas said. “There is no way. We will not accept.”
Abbas also restated that he will accept nothing less than east Jerusalem in its entirety as the capital of a future Palestinian state. He threatened Israel and the United States that should peace talks fail, he would support popular resistance.
Abbas is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama in Washington on March 17.