Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intends to demand that the Palestinian Authority accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in upcoming negotiations. This will be Israel's precondition for any further negotiations with the PA, according to Channel 2 TV.
Prime Minister Olmert clarified that he will not necessarily make the demand before the upcoming Annapolis conference, and that Israel will participate in the conference whether or not the PA recognizes it as Jewish. The matter will come up again in talks after the conference, he said.
Olmert hopes that Arab acceptance of the demand will force the PA to give up on calls for an Arab influx into Israel's borders as part of a "right of return." If the PA agrees to announce its acceptance, Olmert will respond with concrete concessions.
Until now, however, the PA negotiators' position has been to reject this condition.
According to a report by Ynet, the PA's negotiating team will refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the declaration expected to be signed at the Annapolis Mideast summit November 26. Israeli and PA negotiating teams are scheduled to meet Monday following an incident in which lead PA negotiator Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), the former PA Prime Minister, was held up Sunday for half an hour at a security checkpoint on his way to Jerusalem for the meeting.
Netanyahu Discusses Annapolis with Rabbi Ovadia
Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset faction chairman MK Gideon Saar met with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas' spiritual mentor, and Minister Eli Yishai, the party's chairman, Monday morning. Netanyahu explained the dangers of the Annapolis conference to the leaders of Shas, advising them to leave the coalition. "OImert is repeating the mistakes made by Ehud Barak in Camp David," Netanyahu said, "in agreeing to make concessions without receiving anything in return."
Arutz-7's Hebrew correspondent Chizky Ezra asked Netanyahu whether, if elected Prime Minister, he would feel obligated to fulfill Olmert's Annapolis promises. At that point, Netanyahu thanked the reporters who had gathered and walked away.
Israel to Redefine 'Blood on hands'
Israel has decided to redefine the term "with blood on their hands," which it has used for decades to indicate terrorists who participated in attacks that caused casualties.
The government reportedly wants to include a narrower definition in a package of incentives which it plans to award the PA. Israeli government officials fear that PA Arabs' will be angry when Israel does not cave in on every one of their demands at the upcoming summit at Annapolis. To placate them, the government is preparing a package of concessions.
A senior defense source told NRG-Maariv: "In any case, Israel will not release murderers, nor the people who directly helped carry out a murder." Of the roughly 10,000 security prisoners in Israel, about 4,000 are defined as having "blood on their hands."