US Secretary of State John Kerry has seen his reputation and prestige shredded to tatters over the past few weeks.
On 13 March Kerry told members of the House Foreign Relations committee that:
- International law has already declared Israel a Jewish state, and
- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on a public declaration of Israel’s Jewish character from the PLO was “a mistake” in the diplomatic process.
Kerry also told a Senate panel:
“‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40—30 mentions of ‘Jewish state’. In addition, chairman Arafat in 1988 and again in 2004 confirmed that he agreed it would be a Jewish state. And there are any other number of mentions.”
PLO Chairman and President of the State of Palestine – Mahmoud Abbas – was unimpressed with Kerry’s knowledge of international law.
On 16 March the New York Times reported:
“.. Mr. Abbas, speaking before a meeting in the Oval Office, made clear that he was no closer to uttering the words that are a litmus test for the Israelis: that he recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
“Since 1988, we have recognized international legitimacy resolutions” on Israel, Mr. Abbas said as Mr. Obama looked on, a hand on his chin. “And in 1993, we recognized the State of Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the Palestinians go further and recognize Israel as a nation-state for the Jewish people in order to get a peace deal. Mr. Abbas has flatly refused, and his comments on Monday suggested he had gone as far as he would.”
On 19 March Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at The City University of New York – Peter Beinart – provided this advice to Abbas:
“I have a suggestion for Mahmoud Abbas. The next time Benjamin Netanyahu demands that you recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” tell him that you’ll agree on one condition. The Israeli cabinet must first agree on what “Jewish state” means. That should get you off the hook for a good long while.
Israel has never been able to define the term “Jewish state.”
The good Professor was obviously unaware that the term “Jewish State” had been defined for the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in evidence given by David Ben-Gurion on 7 July 1947:
“What is the meaning of a Jewish State? As I told you before, a Jewish State does not mean one has to be a Jew. It means merely a State-where the Jews are in the majority, otherwise all the citizens have the same status. If the State were called by the name “Palestine,” – I said if – then all would be Palestinian citizens If the State would be given, another name – I think it would be given another name – because Palestine is neither a Jewish nor an Arab name. As far as the Arabs are concerned, and we have the evidence of the Arab historian, Hitti, that there was no such a thing as “Palestine” at all: Palestine is not an Arab name. Palestine is also not a Jewish name. When the Greeks were our enemies, in order not to annoy the Jews, they gave different names to the streets. So, maybe the name of Palestine will be changed. But whatever the name of the country, every citizen of the country will be a citizen. This is what we mean. This is what we have to mean. We cannot conceive that in a State where we are not in a minority, where we have the main responsibilities as the majority of the country, there should be the slightest discrimination between a Jew and a non-Jew.”
Abbas rejected Beinart’s unsolicited advice for one simple reason – any state that contained the word “Jewish” or any suggestion of being Jewish would never be acceptable to Abbas.
As Pinhas Inbari reported:
“On March 22, 2014, Abbas spoke before the Central Committee of the Fatah Movement. According to Nabil Abu Rodena, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority presidency, the Fatah body supported Abbas’ position of “non-recognition of Israel being a Jewish state.” The Palestinians did not release a complete text of Abbas’ Fatah speech.
At the Arab League summit in Kuwait on March 25, Abbas took this a step further. The official Arabic transcript of his speech before reveals how he has moved toward a more uncompromising diplomatic posture, opposing Israel’s stand that it be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as it recognizes the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people:
“Israel has invented new conditions that it did not raise before, like recognizing it as a Jewish state. This we oppose as well as even holding a discussion on this matter.”
The Arab League was more than happy to oblige Abbas and rebuff Kerry – its final communiqué at the summit’s close stating:
“We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
Kerry – left high and dry by this united show of Arab opposition to accepting what Kerry had trumpeted just 12 days earlier – was suddenly forced to fly to Amman on 26 March to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the afternoon and Abbas in the evening.
As Kerry’s credibility crashes – Abbas’s intransigence in refusing to recognise Israel as the Jewish State increases – a certain recipe for diplomatic disaster.
David Singer blogs at Jordan is Palestine