Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, part III
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, part III

For parts I and II, click here.

In his meeting with President Obama, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said no to Obama on three substantive issues affecting the peace process. He refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, relinquish the “right of return” for millions of Palestinian Arabs and their descendants and agree that once a peace agreement had been reached, no further demands on Israel would be made.

Before returning to further negotiations, Abbas demanded that the remaining terrorists be released as part of the agreement with Israel in exchange for continued Arab participation in peace talks plus the release of Marwan Barghouti, the Fatah leader serving five life sentences for murdering Israelis. ( Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama,” Gatestone Institute, March 21, 2014); Jonathan S. Tobin, “Three More Palestinian “No’s” to Peace,” Commentary, March 23, 2014). [3]

The release of terrorists would enable Abbas to negotiate with Israel for some time without concern of public condemnation since Barghouti is the most admired Arab leader among the Palestinian Arabs. (Avi Issacharoff, “Why Abbas wants Marwan Barghouti to go free,” The Times of Israel, March 22, 2014).

In the absence of any assurance the talks would continue, Israeli ministers, including Tzipi Livni, Israeli Minister of Justice and the leading champion of the peace process, saw little justification to assume the political price for releasing prisoners only to have Mr. Abbas take the international steps a few weeks later that Israel fears. There was never, she said, an “automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to progress in negotiations.” The prisoner release had been predicated on having had nine months of negotiations. Since the last substantial meeting had not occurred between the sides since November 2013, the Israelis did not feel bound to release more prisoners. (Jodi Rudoren, “Standoff Over Prisoner Release Threatens Mideast Talks,” The New York Times, March 23, 2014).

No one should have been surprised by Abbas’s refusal to accept U.S. proposals despite all the pressure from the Americans. Before leaving for the U.S., Abbas directed the PA to organize public rallies of their employees and schoolchildren imploring him not to surrender to American pressure. When he returned on March 20th, hundreds of schoolchildren and PA employees were sent to his offices to thank him for resisting American coercion “and upholding Palestinian rights.” (Toameh, “Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama,” op.cit; Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians Dream of Destroying Israel, Peace Treaty or Not,” Gatestone Institute, March 25, 2014); Jonathan D. Halevi, “Abbas Denies His Authority to Make Cardinal Decisions for a Lasting Peace Agreement,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, January 13, 2014)

Abbas cannot sign a document confirming that the Jews have rightfully returned to their ancestral homeland so long as the PA teaches that Jews are foreign intruders. (Efraim Inbar, “Palestinian Red Line,” Israel Hayom, December 16, 2013). For Abbas, all of Israel is occupied Arab land. The official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida quoted a letter that "President Abbas wrote on his Facebook page." Part of the letter read: "The [sought UN] recognition will not liberate the land the following day, but will prove that we are right that our land is occupied and not disputed territory, and this applies to all the territories that Israel occupied before June 1967 (i.e., all of Israel)." (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “What is Abbas' true ideology?” Palestinian Media Watch, October 18, 2012)

Mohamed Shtayyeh, Member of Fatah Central Committee, explained another reason Abbas will not recognize Israel. "The dispute with Israel,” he said “is not only over recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The dispute is over Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and borders," which is why Abbas has no authority to agree to any compromises on these issues. (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas Cannot Make Concessions on Any Core Issue,” Gatestone Institute, March 10, 2014).

The justification for refusing to recognize Israel is found in Articles 15 and 20 of the Palestinian National Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  Article 15 asserts, “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. (; (Leila S. Kadi, Ed., Basic Political Documents of the Armed Palestinian Resistance Movement, Palestine Research Centre, Beirut, December 1969: 137-141.)

According to one source, the correct translation of the term "the elimination of Zionism," is "the liquidation of the Zionist presence." Arabs use the expression “the Zionist presence," a familiar Arabic euphemism for Israel, “so this clause in fact calls for the destruction of Israel, not just the end of Zionism.” 

Article 20 denies any historical connection of the Jews to the land of Israel. “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.” 

The nature of the state Abbas envisions was revealed at a meeting with the Egyptian press in Cairo in August 2010. When the idea of having a third party, such as NATO, supervise the execution of the agreement, Abbas insisted on the condition that not one Jewish soldier or Israeli be involved. “I am ready to accept a third party which supervises the implementation of the agreement, NATO forces for example, but I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces or a [single] Israeli on the Land of Palestine.” 

Abbas’ position on NATO and his refusal to recognize the Jewish State are anti-Semitic; leaving no doubt about the role Jews will play in the new regime. The response to this racist ultimatum was silence from the American, European and Israeli governments and the world Jewish community.  Perhaps this is because Abbas is the man the U.S. and Europe expect to forge peace with the Israelis.  Or this response illustrates, as Trigano believes, “the indulgence of the public with regard to the Palestinian and Arab-Islamic demands and their lack of interest with regard to the impasse into which they want to throw Israel and the whole Jewish world.” (Ibid.)

 A recent speech by Abbas further reinforces the necessity for PA recognition to ensure genuine peace according to Itamar Marcus, the director of Palestinian Media Watch, and explains why Abbas continues to refuse to provide it. In a speech in Morocco, Abbas described Jewish history in Jerusalem as a "delusional myth" declaring that Israel is attempting to create a Jewish history "by brute force." (Official PA TV, January 17, 2014). 

This is not the first time Abbas has sought to deny Jewish history. In another lecture, he described Jewish history in Jerusalem as "illusions and legends" and portrayed the Temple in Jerusalem as the "alleged Temple," a phrase employed by the PA to refute that there ever had been a Jewish Temple. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 2012). Whenever an archeological discovery is made with Jewish symbols and Hebrew texts proving Jewish connection to the land of Israel, the PA assures their people that Israel fabricated it distorted it or placed it there to be found. In 2013, when Israeli archeologists found gold artifacts with Jewish symbols 50 meters from the Western Wall, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei immediately went on PA TV to deny its authenticity: “I think all this is a forgery, forgery of the truth. It’s all an attempt to make claims. They did not find anything.” (Official PA TV, September 11, 2013). (Ibid.)

At the Munich Security Conference on January 31, 2014, Saeb Erekat asserted that Palestinian Arabs cannot accept Israel as the Jewish state because they lived in the area many years before the Jews.  He told Tzipi Livni that "When you say, 'Accept Israel as a Jewish state,' you are asking me to change my narrative.”

Erekat defended his allegation by saying that his ancestors were the real descendants of the Canaanities (who disappeared from the pages of history thousands of years ago when the Assyrians dispersed them) and lived in the area for "5,500 years before Joshua Bin-Nun came and burned my hometown, Jericho."(Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, “Chief Palestinian negotiator: We were here before the Jews,” Israel Hayom, February 2, 2014). [4]

We know, however, according to historian Moshe Gil that the “Jewish population residing in the country at the time of the Muslim conquest [634CE] consisted of the direct descendants of the generations of Jews who had lived there since the days of Joshua bin Nun, in other words, for some 2,000 years.”  (Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634-1099 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 2.); Yaacov Herzog, A People That Dwells Alone (New York: Sanhedrin Press, 1975), 33.

Significantly, not even Arab “moderates” have raised the issue of recognition and neither did any Palestinian Arab polls. As historian Efraim Inbar found “Normative language mentioning rights and international norms in Palestinian discourse is reserved for Palestinian demands only, and is never applied to understand what Israelis want.” In peace treaties with Egyptians and Jordanians they were not asked to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state as they did not claim any part of Israel. (Inbar, “Palestinian Red Line,” op.cit.)

Thus Marcus contends that the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not a simply an insignificant detail, but part of a strategy to negate thousands of years of Jewish history in Israel in order to deny Israel’s right to exist. Although the PLO recognized the existence of Israel in the Oslo Accords in 1993, the PA distinguishes “between recognizing that Israel exists and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.” (Marcus, “Why Abbas thinks Jewish state is a 'delusional myth,” op.cit.).

Recognition is a fundamental concern not only for countless Palestinian Arabs, but for Muslims around the world. Were they to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian Arabs would have to relinquish their dream of residing in parts of what was Israel before the 1967 Six Day War. Accepting Israel as a Jewish state would require ceding a core element in Palestinian Arab national identity; it would effectively indicate the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict without a total Arab win. (Kenneth W. Stein, “Annapolis: Precedents and Transactions, But No Transformations.” TAU News (December 27, 2007).

For this reason, Marcus believes “any PA recognition – if it is to impact at all on peace – must include recognition that Israel is the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish history and therefore Israel has a right to exist….for these declarations to be more than mere embellishments to yet another insincere agreement, they must be immediately integrated into PA children’s education and public discourse. Without this, Abbas’ recognition of the Jewish state would be like Arafat’s recognition of Israel in 1993: a meaningless ornament to a deceptive peace process that is cited regularly by the PA to create a façade of sincerity.” (Ibid.)

This is one of the reasons Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared that Abbas is not a partner who would conclude a peace agreement that would end the conflict. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] is a partner that takes but doesn’t give. He is not a partner for a permanent-status agreement in which at the end there is recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.”

Another issue is that the young generation of Palestinian Arabs continues to be instructed to destroy Israel, he said. When Israel left Gaza all that occurred was that Hamas assumed power. Were Israel to abandon Judea and Samaria, “Hamas would rule the area and Abbas would become irrelevant,” Ya’alon warned. After all, Abbas is able to remain in power because he has Israel’s support, he said. (Tovah Lazaroff and Michael Wilner, “Ya’alon: Abbas is not a partner for a peace deal,” The Jerusalem Post ,March 16, 2014).

Ya’alon’s concerns about the next generation of Palestinian Arabs are genuine.  According to psychiatrist Daphne Burdman, “Palestinian hatred of the Jews emanates from three principal socio-historical sources:  (1) Koranic and Hadith injunctions; (2) extremist Islamic militancy; and (3) the highly successful indoctrination and incitement of children established by the Palestinian Authority…..” (Daphne Burdman, “Hatred of the Jews as a Psychological Phenomenon in Palestinian Society,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Jewish Political Studies Review 18:3-4, October 1, 2006). 

Additionally, “Among the psychological factors determining indoctrination, the transmission of emotion is the ultimate weapon. Hatred in this context is paramount, and abhorrence of the Jews, and to a lesser extent of the Americans, is transmitted. In patriarchal Palestinian society, manipulation of children’s emotions thus draws on fear of displeasing Allah.” (Manfred Gerstenfeld, “A Psychiatrist Talks About PA Children's Indoctrination,” Israel National News, November 1, 2011).

Palestinian Arab psychiatrist Dr. Shafiq Massalha is certain that” the next generation of Palestinian Arabs will be a very murderous population full of anger and hatred. He reached this conclusion after his study found that over half the Palestinian population aged 6 to 11 dream of becoming suicide bombers. (Justus Reid Weiner and Michael Sussman, “Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel?” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Jerusalem Viewpoints Number 537 (December 1, 2005) [5]

Nothing will change Burdman assures us unless fundamental modifications in education and childrearing are instituted that “will change the predisposition of such a national culture in Palestinian society… toward the authoritarian, totalitarian, and anti-Semitic societies we witness today.”  (Burdman, “Hatred of the Jews as a Psychological Phenomenon in Palestinian Society,” op.cit.) Under these circumstances, Justus Reid Weiner and Michael Sussman are correct in saying that achieving “a peace agreement can only successfully end a conflict if it enjoys underlying, wide-ranging support from its respective populations….Past efforts … have failed to deal with, or even acknowledge, the deep-seated psychological mechanisms of partisanship that are endemic in Palestinian culture.” (Weiner and Sussman, op.cit.)

Whether Israel continues to demand the Arabs recognize her right to exist or not, one point remains clear.  Discussions and negotiations will never succeed as long as Palestinian Arabs do not accept Israel as a legitimate Jewish state. There is no middle ground of whether Israel should exist or not. This is not open for debate. No self-respecting state would consent to its own demise.

On the contrary, it strives for maximum security against political ruin and physical annihilation. Palestinian Arab refusal to abandon the possibility or inevitability of Israel’s destruction cannot be as easily dismissed as those in the Western media continually do. Nor can one ignore the overwhelming evidence that this conflict is a religious war, where the land of Israel will always be viewed by Palestinian Arabs as a waqf land – land that is a Muslim religious trust.  (Bernard Lewis, “The Palestinians and the PLO,” Commentary, January 1975):43-44; Aryeh Eldad, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war of religion, not territory,” Haaretz, August 19, 2013) [6]


[3] For more articles on the subject: "Senior Palestinian official denies offering to recognize 'Jewish State,'” Haaretz (March 19, 2014); Jack Khoury, “Palestinian officials: Two-state solution is losing air,” Haaretz (March 19, 2014); Jack Khoury, “Palestinians may turn to UN if Israel doesn't free last prisoners,” Haaretz (March 25, 2014); Nicole Brackman and Asaf Romirowsky, “It's always 'Groundhog Day' with the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process,'” The Washington Examiner (March 23, 2014); Jodi Rudoren and Michael R. Gordon, “As Kerry Visits Jordan, Abbas Holds His Ground,” The New York Times (March 7, 2014).

[4] See also: Nadav Shragai, “The fabricated Palestinian history,” Israel Hayom (February 7, 2014); Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian envoy to peace talks rebuffs Livni: We won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” The Jerusalem Post (January 10, 2014).

[5] See also: ; Justus Weiner, "Child Abuse in the Palestinian Authority," The Jerusalem Post (October 3, 2002); “Contemporary Islamist Ideology Authorizing Genocidal Murder,” MEMRI Special Report Number 25 (January 27, 2004).

[6] )See also:  Yitzhak Reiter, “All of Palestine is Holy Waqf Land,” A Myth and Its Roots,” Law, Custom and Statute in the Muslim World, Ron Shaham, Ed. (Boston, Massachusetts: Brill, 2007), 173; Salman Masalha, “Discard the false visions of a binational state,” Haaretz (March 19, 2014); Ari Shavit, “Turning on the 'Jewish state,'” Haaretz (March 20, 2014); Khaled Abu Toameh, “Fatah and the "Armed Struggle" against Israel,” Gatestone Institute (February 7, 2014).