Erekat: Question of Jewish statehood settled long ago

RAMALLAH April 23 (Jmcc) – Responding to reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to insist on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, negotiator Saeb Erekat said that this issue was decided when Israel was established.

"On May 14 1948, a Jewish group tried to convince then-US president Harry Truman to sign on paper recognizing the interim government of the ‘Jewish state,’" Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio.

"The US president erased the phrase ‘Jewish state’ and wrote instead ‘the state of Israel.’ In other words, this affair was settled long ago."

Haaretz newspaper initiated the question with its analysis of new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to negotiations with Palestinians.

Netanyahu has said that he rejects the two-state solution, and his strategy for handling the Palestinian issue remains a concern. Erekat charged him with using the issue of Israel’s Jewish character as a red herring to stall negotiations.

According to Aluf Benn and Barack Ravid:

Why is Netanyahu insistent on Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the nation-state of the Jewish people," rejecting critics who see the demand as a means to scuttle negotiations? There are a few explanations for his position. First of all, Netanyahu wants to present an Israeli demand for recognition of national rights as a counterweight to the demand that Israel recognize "Palestinian rights." Second, he is concerned that if the Palestinians evade such recognition in political negotiations, they will also refrain from telling their constituency that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, and will continue to pursue the conflict even after a settlement is reached. Third, recognition of a Jewish state will neutralize the Palestinian demand for the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees.

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