Recognition of a “Jewish State” Unfair and Unrealistic

Once again, an issue with one purpose – to make a peace agreement completely impossible – comes to the fore.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeated his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” as a sine qua non for a deal to end the occupation.

I’ve written about this several times in the past. Here’s a bit of what I wrote in April, 2009:

The demand is absurd on its face. No one demands that a country be recognized as anything but a sovereign nation by anyone else. The Palestinian Authority has recognized Israel as a sovereign nation, and that is enough. Netanyahu surely realizes this. The demand is simply an attempt to thwart negotiations and score a few populist brownie points at the same time.

Of course most Israeli Jews cherish the state’s Jewish identity, and that trait is of possibly even greater importance to the state’s Diaspora supporters. But as far as affirmation from others, well…actually, Abba Eban put it best: “Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’ Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement….There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

This silliness first came up in a serious way under Ehud Olmert, who realized that the tired and untrue mantra that the Palestinians had never recognized Israel was wearing thin. So, he came up with this new twist and it was first prominently demanded at the Annapolis Conference. Here’s some of what I wrote back then: Continue reading