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February 23, 2014 6:30 pm

Report: Growing Movement Within Palestinian Authority Seeks Compromise on Recognition of Israel as Jewish State

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with PA President Abbas in May 2013. Photo: State Department.

While the Palestinian Authority continues to officially deny the possibility that it will ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a growing movement within the PA is actively seeking a compromise on the issue, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Sunday.

The willingness of the PA to even consider changing its official party line is the result of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s insistence, according to the report. In a meeting he held last week with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, he stressed that the framework agreement between Jerusalem and Ramallah currently under discussion, must include official recognition of the Jewish character of the state of Israel.

There is also a growing chorus of PA representatives who now support having the United Nations and the Arab League officially recognize Israel as a Jewish state instead of the PA doing so, Ma’ariv said.

Palestinian-Arab daily newspaper Al-Quds recently quoted a PA official saying, “The issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state should not be an obstacle in preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem.”

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“The issue has been created in order to eliminate the possibility of a future right of return [for Palestinian Arabs],” the PA proponent of recognition told Al-Quds. “However, Abbas has stated on several occasions that [the PA] does not intend on pushing for the return of all refugees. It is therefore unclear why recognition of a Jewish state remains an obstacle.”

Since the PA is both a part of the Arab League and has observer status in the United Nations, it could in theory fulfill Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s requirement for recognition indirectly without having to ever utter the words “Jewish state,” Ma’ariv said.

However, while winds of change are blowing through certain quarters of the PA, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo continued to adhere on Sunday to the official position of non-recognition.

“Recognition of a Jewish state means recognition of a Greater Israel that includes occupied Palestinian land,” Rabbo said. “Recognition of a Jewish state means that this is the homeland of the Jewish people, in which there is no room for the Palestinians. Therefore, recognition is unthinkable.”

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