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PA May Call Israel a ‘Jewish’ State—If Within 1949 Borders

A senior PA official says it might call Israel ‘Jewish’ if it returns to the 1949-67 borders, but an adviser to Abbas ruled out the possibility.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/13/2010, 2:05 PM / Last Update: 10/13/2010, 2:13 PM

A senior Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday it might satisfy Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish State on condition that Jerusalem returns to the borders that existed from the time of the 1949 Armistice agreement until prior to the start of the Six-Day War in 1967, called "Auschwitz borders" by the late Israeli statesman and UN Ambassador Abba Eban in 1967 due to their indefensibility.

PA official Yasser Abed Rabbo, part of the hierarchy in Ramallah, phrased his challenge in a way that did not commit the PA to recognize Israel as Jewish, adding it would so only “in accordance with international law.”

Trying to throw the diplomatic ball of wax back into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s court,  the French news agency AFP quoted Abed Rabbo as telling an Israeli newspaper , "We officially demand that the U.S. administration and the Israeli government provide a map of the borders of the state of Israel which they want us to recognize.”

He added, "If this map is based on the 1967 borders and provides for the end of the Israeli occupation over all Palestinian lands... then we recognize Israel by whatever name it applies to itself in accordance with international law. We are awaiting a response from Tel Aviv and Washington.”

However, an advisor to PA Mahmoud Abbas ruled out Abed Rabbo's suggestion. "We are not going to do anything that would pre-empt or prejudge the rights of the Palestinians in Israel or Palestinian refugees" Nabil Sha'ath told CNN. "We are not going to do it – forget it"

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Tuesday that the United States recognizes Israel “as a state for the Jewish people” and as the "homeland of the Jewish People.”

The United Nations has not responded to Abed Rabbo, but Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev told Israel National News that the new proposal is another example of the “Palestinian Authority running away from the issue” of establishing borders for a new Arab country through negotiations.

The issues of borders and recognizing Israel as Jewish “are not connected,” Regev explained. “The Palestinian Authority’s rejection of the Jewish people’s right to a nation of self-determination is the cause of the conflict. Only when the Palestinians recognize that the Jewish people are entitled to national self-determination--only when they make that historic statement--will Israelis understand that the Palestinians are ready for a real historical” achievement.

Minister Silvan Shalom said that Abed Rabbo’s remarks represent part of a “new system by the Palestinian Authority to achieve what they cannot achieve through negotiations. It is a new way to get all they can get without compromising which won't happen if  they do not have to sit down at the same table with us.”

Previous agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority have stated that the borders of a new Arab state, particularly Jerusalem, will be decided through negotiations.

The PA demand for sovereignty over all the land according to the 1949-67 borders would severely weaken Israel as Arabs would acquire the high points looking over Tel Aviv and the country would become extremely narrow at its center. It would require more than 600,000 Jews to give up their homes in neighborhoods in Jerusalem as well as in Judea and Samaria. The Arabs attacked Israel in 1967 and the area they lost in that war of agression, much of which was occupied unlawfully by them to begin with, is what they wish to regain.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has said no Jews would be allowed in a new Arab state under its control.