Israel as a Jewish State: US Says ‘Yes’, Arabs Say ‘No’

Not budging. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

The Palestinians are not budging. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

One of the key points of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is that Israel wants to be recognized as a Jewish state—comparing it to the way other nations, such as France or Italy, have a predominate cultural identity. The Palestinians are opposed to the concept, even though they themselves plan on having a Palestinian state.

But it’s not just the Israelis and the Palestinians who are at odds over the issue. Turns out the Arab League and the United States have differing viewpoints as well. Considering those two are key participants in the Israel-Palestinian talks, the current rhetorical battle led by the Arabs doesn’t look to be bringing the sides any closer.

The Arab League, according to Daily News Egypt, said in a statement on Wednesday that they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Just one day before, and presumptively with the expectation that such a statement would be put forth by the Arab League, the Ma’an News Agency reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed full satisfaction with the Arab League’s Palestinian resolutions.

In other words, Abbas isn’t budging on this critical issue, and now all his friends have backed him up.

The US on Wednesday refused to evaluate the impact of the Arab League’s statement. In comments released by the State Department, spokesperson Marie Harf said, “These are private discussions going on directly between the Israelis and the Palestinians, so I don’t want to guess what an Arab League statement—how that might affect it… What we’re focused on isn’t what the Arab League says on this at this point. It’s what the two parties are saying to each other and seeing if we can move the process forward.”

Of course, the Arab League issue seems to be encouraging the Palestinians to refuse this crucial Israeli condition, so it appears the US is avoiding the elephant in the room.

At least the US was clear on its position. Said Harf, “You know what the United States’ view is, and we’ve been clear about that, that Israel is a Jewish state.”

So it turns out the US and the Arab League disagree on this one. And if two groups supposedly invested in the Israel-Palestinian process are on opposite sides, it’s not looking good for the Palestinians to agree with the Israelis.

So while the US doesn’t want to analyze the impact of the Arab League’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, it’s probably because the Americans don’t like the answer: no Arab support, no Palestinian compromise—and therefore, no peace deal.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 27, 2014)

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