Obama to Palestinians: Accept the Jewish State -Daniel Pipes, PhD
- One key shift in U.S. policy during President Obama's visit to Israel last week was the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
- Israel's founding documents aimed to make the country a Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 favors "a national home for the Jewish people." UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, partitioning Palestine into two, mentions the term "Jewish state" 30 times. Everyone simply assumed that diplomatic recognition of Israel meant accepting it as the Jewish state.
- When Israelis and their friends realized that they had to insist on explicit Arab acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state, in 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that unless Palestinians did so, diplomacy would be aborted.
- When Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded Olmert as prime minister in 2009, he said: "Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples."
- In his Jerusalem speech last week, Obama suddenly and unexpectedly adopted in full the Israeli demand: "Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state."
- That sentence breaks important new ground. It also makes for excellent policy, for without such recognition, Palestinian acceptance of Israel is hollow.
- Those 10 words establish a readiness to deal with the conflict's central issue. They likely will be Obama's most important, most lasting and most constructive contribution to Arab-Israeli diplomacy.
Obama's Foreign Policy Team -Jonathan S. Tobin
[H]aving wasted his first term on dead-end diplomacy with Tehran and the Palestinians, the president's Israel visit suggested that he has learned from his mistakes.
This was demonstrated, inter alia, by his reaffirmation of Washington's "eternal" alliance with Jerusalem in language validating Israel's ancient history: in stark contrast to his 2009 Cairo speech which ascribed Israel's right to exist to the Holocaust. Obama also upped his rhetoric regarding Iran, leaving himself little room short of a full diplomatic success that would contain Tehran's nuclear threat.
These positive aspects notwithstanding, given Obama's past failure to follow through on his rhetoric, it remains to be seen whether his recent pronouncements translate into actions that make the U.S. more secure while maintaining its close alliance with Israel.
[The Middle East Forum]