The U.S. has warned that the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority must be a two-way street, with both sides “offering something and asking for something.”
In a State Department briefing with reporters in Washington Tuesday, spokesman P.J. Crowley finally appeared to lose patience after a journalist from an Arab publication questioned him closely about America’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
“I’m not making any news here,” Crowley answered flatly. “We have recognized the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the Jewish people. It is a state for other citizens of other faiths as well. But this is the aspiration of the – what Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu said yesterday is, in essence, the – a core demand of the Israeli government, which we support, is a recognition that Israel is a part of the region, acceptance by the region of the existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People and that is what they want to see through this negotiation.”
Crowley’s statement came in response to a follow-up question about an offer from Israel’s prime minister to renew the freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria by 60 day – in exchange for formal recognition by the Palestinian Authority of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
The offer was extended as an incentive to return PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table. Abbas has been threatening to abandon the direct talks that were jumpstarted in September after a hiatus of more than 18 months.
“The Prime Minister was talking yesterday about the fact that just as they aspire to a state for the Jewish people in the Middle East, they understand the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own,” Crowley continued.
‘Not a One-Way Street’
“Now, so the prime minister has put forward his ideas and what he believes his people need to hear so that they can make the commitment that we’re seeking to stay in this process and to reach a successful conclusion.
“This is not a one-way street,” he added. “It is a two-way street. The Prime Minister is offering something and asking for something. It is perfectly within the rights of the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas to say there’s something I need and there’s something I’m willing to give.”
U.S. Middle East Special Envoy George Mitchell is expected to meet with both Netanyahu and Abbas in the coming days, Crowley said, and to determine whether “conditions are right for direct negotiations to continue.”