“Never” is a very long time. That is exactly when the Palestinians say that they will recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people. Never. Ever. But here, the Palestinians make it clear that they are not speaking only for themselves, but for the Arab world. In an article in Haaretz today we are informed:
The Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, senior Palestinian officials said on Tuesday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed to freeze settlement construction in exchange for that condition.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that demand could never be accepted, while his colleague Nabil Sha’ath added that the government in Ramallah would not tolerate a partial construction freeze and that the moratorium must also be applied in East Jerusalem.
Just so that you might not think that only Erekat believes this, the Haaretz article relates:
Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said a return to U.S.-backed peace talks required a freeze on settlement building by Israel and emphasized that:
“The issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter.”
In his proposal, Netanyahu stressed that Israel was willing to make concessions and that a peace deal and a Palestinian state could be achieved if the Palestinians would be willing to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.
The Palestinians believe that all of the land is their land while Israel currently exists on it. We’ve seen this discussion before. In fact, I wrote an article about this issue on my personal blog in April of 2009 about Abbas’ speech then. There I wrote that:
Arab leaders are now calling for a two state solution, while opposing one of them being a Jewish state. Rather than calling for a single Palestinian state, Arab leaders advocating for the Palestinian side are pretending to be supporters of “two states for two peoples” by agreeing to “two states.” However, their intent is that BOTH states will become Palestinian states. They drop the “for two peoples” part of the statement. This is to be accomplished by insisting on the Right of Return of Palestinians to what is now Israel.
Ynet’s article on Abbas’ 2009 speech included this:
He [Abbas] said it’s not his job to define the state of Israel. “Name yourself, it’s not my business,” He said. “All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don’t accept.”
In other words, Abbas believes that the nation of Israel as recognized by the UN as a state exists, but he does not accept its Jewish nature now or in the future. The above statement seems to be exactly the position that he is bringing to the negotiating table now. It is a position that has no chance to achieve peace because it has no chance to meet any of the most basic concerns of Israel. That 1967 border was no where near secure and did not include most of Jerusalem on the Israeli side. The entire Old City would be on the Palestinian side.
There also continues to be a ridiculous notion that among the Palestinian concessions is the Right of Return of refugees and their descendants from 1948, much less 1967, to their homes within what would be Israel after a peace agreement. This makes no sense and cannot be understood as a concession. The only realistic option is restitution. The Right of Return as a peace concession amounts to “If you let us kill you this way, we won’t kill you the other way.” It is absurd as a notion, much less as a demand. More insane than this is the fact that the Palestinians and the Arab world act as if it is a demand that they cannot concede!!! It is an invalid and impossible demand to begin with!!! It simply cannot be done unless the goal is to eliminate the Jewish state and replace it with a Palestinian one. Thus, Israel cannot possibly agree to it. If that is true, it is not a valid negotiating position. It would amount to going to a car dealer to negotiate about the purchase of a car and the dealer only giving you options that involve the car remaining in their possession.
The peace process is about the creation of two states for two peoples. One must be a state for the Jewish people. If that is not being discussed, there is no peace process.