As the Knesset winter session opened, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that any peace agreement with the Palestinians must include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu knows that any successful peace agreement requires Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, signifying that the Palestinians have truly accepted Israel’s legitimacy and abandoned their claim to Israeli territory. Barring these steps, there can be “no end to the conflict,” Netanyahu warned.

Netanyahu noted that Palestinian media routinely refers to its borders as stretching from Metulla in Northern Israel to Eilat on the Red Sea and promotes statehood without recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation. He emphasized that the Palestinians are mistaken. They will never achieve statehood without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

By way of background, the PLO officially adheres to the Strategy of Phases, which calls for the destruction of Israel in various stages. Point two of its 10-point 1974 platform declares that the PLO should create “a national, independent fighting authority on every part of the Palestinian land to be liberated.” Point eight explains that the “the Palestine national entity, after it comes into existence” should “complete the liberation of the entire Palestinian soil.”

Abbas’ government has never officially renounced the Strategy of Phases. To the contrary, Abbas himself has promoted the Strategy of Phases. Furthermore, after Abbas told an Israeli interviewer that he had no desire to return to the Jewish holy city of Safed, he told his supporters in Arabic that each Palestinian has the right to settle there, and that all Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their “homes.” Whenever Abbas states in English that he recognizes Israel’s right to exist, he quickly explains in Arabic that he recognizes that Israel exists presently but that Israel has no right to exist. Without the abandonment of the Strategy of Phases and recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, steps Palestinians have yet to embrace, no lasting peace will be possible.

Netanyahu asserted that peace requires two willing sides and that unilateral Israeli concessions are not sufficient. “I am not under the illusion that this will be easy. I am determined to do my best to succeed. But this is not just dependent on the Israeli side, such like it was not only up to the past five prime ministers who proceeded me since the start of the Oslo process. They didn’t want this? They didn’t seek it? The other side is also needed,” he said.

According to Netanyahu, any agreement must ensure Israel a long-lasting and secure peace. “How is it that when the Palestinians demand that we recognize their nationhood that they refuse to recognize ours,” Netanyahu asked. “The Jewish people have been in existence for 4,000 years. Why do we not deserve recognition?” Netanyahu also dismissed voices in Israel that said PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was unnecessary. “The question is not why we are raising this point, but why the Palestinians continue to delay an agreement over this.”

Author: Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel
Date: October 16, 2013