Is­raeli Arabs lobby against ‘Jewish’ state

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

IS­RAELI ARAB politi­cians are be­hind the Pales­tinian Author­ity’s re­fusal to recog­nise Is­rael as a Jewish state at the forth­com­ing An­napo­lis sum­mit, the JC has learned.

The PA has so far firmly de­nied Is­raeli de­mands for them to ac­knowl­edge Is­rael as a Jewish state as part of a joint dec­la­ra­tion to be re­vealed at the sum­mit, sched­uled for Novem­ber 27.

Saeb Erekat, the head of the Pales­tinian ne­go­ti­at­ing team, said that while they were pre­pared to recog­nise Is­rael’s right to ex­ist, “we can­not ac­cept recog­ni­tion of Is­rael as a Jewish state”.

One of the main rea­sons for the Pales­tinian re­fusal is pres­sure brought on the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Is­raeli Arabs, who claim that any such recog­ni­tion would un­der­mine their ef­forts to achieve rights within Is­rael as a na­tional mi­nor­ity.

Knes­set Mem­ber Ahmed Tibi, whose Arab Move­ment for Change party de­mands that Is­rael should be de­fined as a state of all its na­tion­al­i­ties rather than ex­clu­sively Jewish, told the JC that he vis­ited Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas last week and urged him to hold fast on this sub­ject.

“We ex­plained to them that there is no con­nec­tion be­tween their ne­go­ti­a­tions and the iden­tity of the state. That can only be de­ter­mined in an in­ter­nal demo­cratic de­bate, here in the Knes­set. It’s not the busi­ness of the Pales­tinian Author­ity, the United States or Nicaragua. All Olmert is try­ing to do is score a few points since he knows that noth­ing is go­ing to come out of An­napo­lis.”

A se­nior Is­raeli diplo­matic source warned: “If the Pales­tini­ans hold out on this, it will be a se­vere blow for Olmert’s hopes from An­napo­lis. Just go­ing to the sum­mit and reaf­firm­ing the com­mit­ment to a two-state so­lu­tion is noth­ing new. He needs to come back with at least some kind of achieve­ment, and a Pales­tinian recog­ni­tion of the Jewish state could have been just that.”

Is­raeli Arab aca­demic Aida Thoma, who helped write a po­si­tion pa­per on the fu­ture of Arab cit­i­zens, said it was in­ter­est­ing “that Is­rael feels it needs Abu Mazen’s agree­ment that it’s a Jewish state. The ne­go­ti­a­tions with the PA are over the Pales­tinian state and the end of the oc­cu­pa­tion, while our strug­gle for recog­ni­tion of our rights as a na­tional mi­nor­ity is an in­ter­nal one.”


MK Ahmed Tibi: lob­by­ing for Is­rael to be de­scribed ‘a state of all its cit­i­zens’

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