Obama Refers to ‘Jewish State’ of Israel Hours After Netanyahu Calls for PA to do Same
U.S. President Barack Obama referred to Israel as a “Jewish State” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to do the same.
Stating America’s objectives in the ongoing U.S. sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Obama called for “an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel—a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.”
At a security conference earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s Netanyahu said that of two basic principles required of the PA, “The first is recognition of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.”
“This is the root of the conflict. The conflict is not about the settlements, its not about the settlers, and it’s not about a Palestinian state. The Zionist movement agreed to recognize a Palestinian state. The conflict is over the Jewish state… We are asked to recognize a national Palestinian state, so can we not also demand [that they] recognize a national Jewish state?” the Premier said.
At least one commentator wondered whether the President was in fact endorsing the long held Israeli position. “Was that ‘Jewish state’ phrasing support of Bibi’s insistence on Palestinian recognition?” tweeted Wall Street Journal reporter, Shayndi Raice.
“Obama recognizes Israel as ‘Jewish State,'” said Haaretz journalist, Chemi Shalev. “Obama names Israel as a Jewish State – not a casual wording…,” Huffington Post Religion Editor, Paul Raushenbush, commented.
Other reactions were less positive.
“POTUS: ‘State of Israel-a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.’ Will not please #Palestinian negotiators,” said Robert Danin, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Reuters editor, Margarita Noriega, asked, “Did you guys know Israel was a Jewish state?”
Israel has long maintained that Palestinian Authority recognition of it as a Jewish State is a crucial step towards a comprehensive agreement that would see the cessation of all Palestinian claims against it. So far the PA has categorically rejected the Israeli request.