The Arab League has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, backing Palestine’s stance on the issue. The demand by Israel threatened to destabilize US-Palestinian peace talks, according to Arab leaders.
“We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state,” said the declaration, issued at the close of the two-day long meeting which has been taking place in Kuwait City. The leaders also criticized “the continuation of settlements, Judaization of Jerusalem and attacks in its Muslim and Christian shrines and changing its demographics and geography.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the necessity for Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state is at the forefront of the peace talks. He states that both Palestinian Arab dismissals of the plans are the “root of the conflict”.
Palestinians recognized Israel at the beginning of the peace talks some two decades ago. However, Netanyahu wants the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a “national homeland” – a move which would obliterate the right of return for Palestinians.
The problem is considered closely connected to the fate of Palestinian refugees who were forced from their homelands in 1948, and they regard Netanyahu’s demands as a means by which to address the question of Palestinian internally displaced persons.
The Palestinian Solidarity Committee-Seattle claims that the international community “has already recognized the Palestinian right of return. There is no reason that this right should not be fully recognized by the State of Israel.”
Their right of return, they argue, is entrenched in both the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13, 2) and The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Article 1, C).
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the summit Tuesday that during the previous eight months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israel has only been working to throw obstacles in the way of peace.
Netanyahu told visiting world leaders in January:
“The root of the conflict is not the settlements. The root of the conflict is not and has never been the lack of a Palestinian state. The root of the conflict is the consistent refusal to accept the existence of an independent nation state for the Jewish people.”
Arab League leaders rejected the recognition of the Jewish State earlier this month in a statement in Cairo.
“The council of the Arab League confirms its support for the Palestinian leadership in its effort to end the Israeli occupation over Palestinian lands, and emphasizes its rejection of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state,” Arab foreign ministers said.
The US has already requested that Abbas make the move of recognition as a framework agreement is negotiated.
“In recognizing the Jewish state [the Palestinians] would finally make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict,” Netanyahu stated in a concurrent speech to the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.
Abbas has been clear in stating that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.