Israeli leaders are slamming U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for telling members of Congress that Israeli insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a “mistake.”
Last Thursday, Kerry testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. When asked about the ongoing peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Kerry stated, “I think it’s a mistake for some people to be, you know, raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state of peace, and we’ve obviously made that clear.”
Kerry, who was alluding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s non-negotiable demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians, told members of Congress that international law already recognizes Israel as a Jewish state under U.N. Resolution 181.
The Secretary views Netanyahu’s insistence on public recognition as hindering the overall peace process.
Israel’s Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio that Kerry’s comments came at a bad time. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is set to arrive in Washington on Monday, now has a greater excuse to not recognize Israel as backed by Kerry’s comments. Erdan said that Kerry is pressuring the wrong side.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Israel Radio that Kerry’s comments are part of a growing trend among the international community to pressure Israel rather than the Palestinians. Elkin urged Israel to hold on to its principles and end the “sad tradition” of pressuring Israel.
Labor Part leader Isaac Herzog stated that as part of a final peace agreement, Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Kerry himself is mistaken in believing that the Palestinians need not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Ya’alon pointed out that Abbas has consistently refused to recognize Israel and his refusal makes it virtually impossible to allow Israel to agree to any final peace agreement.
“I supported Oslo,” Ya’alon said. “Today too I believe human life takes precedent to land, but I found the conflict is on all of Palestine, they don’t recognize our right to exist here…It’s impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians without recognition of the Jewish state.”
Ya’alon called Abbas “a partner for receiving, not giving.” He explained that Abbas “is not a partner for a final agreement that would include the recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and that would end the conflict and all claims.”