20 April 2009

Netanyahu Now Channelling Obama

A new Article out today (below) stating Netanyahu claims that “recognizing Israel as a Jewish State” is no longer required as a precondition to talks. Yup, read it again. Now, for sometime I have had inkling that perhaps there is a bigger picture happening here with the Obama Administration. I am beginning to think he may be going to actually “do the deal” in the Middle East. I am still too much a sceptic at this point but some signs are emerging and if so then I am happy to be proven wrong on Obama.

Negotiations, be it between Israel/Palestine, or the ones that took place in Ireland. They always start from the most extreme positions, and move from there. The fact that Netanyahu has given up on this “pre-condition” that Israel has used to avoid talks, could possibly mean that the US has made its position clear to Israel. And that means Israel will not be allowed to scupper another chance at peace. Let’s hope the US keeps the pressure up on Israel, it is the only thing they react to, or understand.

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is no longer demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" as a precondition for talks, according to a statement sent to Ma'an.

The prime minister's media advisor said that the Netanyahu "has never set this as a pre-condition for the opening of negotiations and dialogue with the Palestinians."

However, the statement went on to say that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insistent in his approach that recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People is a matter of substance and principle that enjoys wide recognition in the country and around the world, without which it will not be possible to advance the diplomatic process and reach a peace settlement."

A demand that Palestinians recognize Israel “as the state of the Jewish people” as a condition for resuming peace negotiations is unacceptable to the US, the State Department said this weekend.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, quoting statements from the State Department, indicated that the US would not back Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for this recognition.

The US released these statements during a visit by Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell. Mitchell met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after meeting Israeli leaders.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” In return, Israel did not recognize an independent Palestinian state but rather acknowledged the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

Palestinian negotiators have rejected this demand for recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” because Israel conceives of its Jewish nature in terms of its Jewish majority. This, in turn, would preclude the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel.

Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from Palestine during the 1948-49 war that saw the creation of Israel. Today more than 4.6 million UN-registered Palestinian refugees live throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.

The fate of the refugees is one of the “final status issues” that has still to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.