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Peace is no kiss, Israeli aide says
A top adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used an odd turn of phrase to explain what some see as a puzzling demand put to Palestinians by the right-wing leader as a condition for any any Israeli agreement to establishing a state in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu wants Palestinians to recognise Israel explicitly as a Jewish state, in addition to their having recognised Israeli sovereignty as part of an interim peace deal in 1993. He feels this would symbolise an historic end of conflict, his aides have explained.
At a briefing summing up Netanyahu’s first 100 days in office, advisor Uzi Arad and several other officials rejected criticism from centrist Kadima party leaders who accused the Israeli leader of achieving little on the diplomatic front since his government was sworn in late in March.
Netanyahu had clearly laid out the terms for any future peace deal, they said. Arad emphasised what he saw as the importance of seeking further Palestinian acceptance of Israel’s existence, before Israel would agree to Palestinians achieving statehood in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war.
“Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, which they have so far refused to do, is not a matter of a kiss on the forehead, but a declaration of intent,” Arad said.
“If they don’t do it, they will have a serious problem, something everyone understands,” Arad added, alluding to what would be Israel’s refusal to reach the two-state deal the United States and Europe have been seeking, unless the condition were met.
Palestinians dismiss Netanyahu’s condition as inconsistent with international law and say it isn’t up to any nation to define the nationality of another.
Another official in Netanyahu’s office said he doubted the Palestinians would ever accept the demand, averring, “because they’re not interested in making peace.”
“If you think that someone stole your house, then you’re never going to make peace,” the official said.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are stalled anyway over the issue of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. Palestinians insist on a building freeze before any return to the negotiating table, while Netanyahu is negotiating with Washington for a partial continuation of the construction.
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