July 18, 2011

Is being Jewish a reason not to make peace?

A new blog post by Elliott Abrams purports to take on the Palestinian reluctance/refusal to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state". He makes an excellent case why there's nothing wrong with Israel being a Jewish state, but he offers no rationale for requiring others -- including Palestinians -- to affirm that.

Neither Egypt nor Jordan had to affirm Israel's unique Jewish essence as part of their peace treaties with the Jewish State. Nor do I know of any country -- even Germany -- that has had to do so in order to establish bilateral relations with Israel. What's more, never before has this been a factor in framing final status talks, and it's been some time since negotiations have seemed so out of reach. So what better time for introducing new conditions!
I doubt that anyone in the Israeli government wants Palestinian statehood to be recognized in advance of a negotiated settlement between the parties. However, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu can weather a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians, secure in the knowledge that Israel's key ally will increase its solidarity and support the more Israel becomes isolated among the other nations. As long as enabling a sustainable peace process is not one of Netanyahu's urgent needs or priorities, he might be better off with Fortress Israel, which will compel the Israeli public to support him -- and reject negotiations -- even more than today.

At least one good thing has come out of this: In citing the UN's 1947 Partition resolution, Israeli and American hawks are implicitly and explicitly reaffirming the right of Palestinians to a state of their own, alongside the Jewish state.

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