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April 17, 2015 9:39 am

Why Iranian Recognition of Israel is Needed

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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Iranian President Rouhani, pictured. If Iran recognizes Israel's existence as part of the nuclear deal, it will start the process of them re-entering the civilized, peaceful world. Photo: Wikipedia.

Why is Israel urging that Iran should be required to recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist as part of a nuclear deal? For the exact same reason that Yitzhak Rabin insisted on Palestinian recognition of Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

When Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization began seeking international recognition in the early 1970s, Israel and the United States both insisted that the PLO had to publicly recognize Israel’s right to exist as a precondition for any Israeli or US dealings with it.

Arafat wasn’t quite ready for that. He tried to have his cake and eat it, too. He would authorize lower level PLO officials to meet with Israeli or American Jewish left-wing activists, who would emerge from the meeting claiming that the PLO was “ready to recognize Israel.” That was sufficient for either Likud or Labor governments, or Republican or Democratic administrations.

At the end of 1988, in the twilight period between President Ronald Reagan leaving office and President George H.W. Bush succeeding him, the State Department coaxed Arafat into making a vague statement that it claimed constituted recognition of Israel. The Israelis disagreed, but the Bush administration went ahead and established a formal relationship with the PLO. That lasted until a year and half, however, until one of Arafat’s factions tried to carry out a massacre on the Tel Aviv beachfront. The Bush administration declared that Arafat’s complicity showed that his “recognition” statement was insincere.

In the years to follow, Arafat kept dancing around the magic words. At one point, the PLO chairman tried to explain away the PLO National Covenant by saying, in French, “C’est caduc,” i.e. null and void. That wasn’t enough for Prime Minister Rabin. He didn’t want some vague comment in a Paris interview. He wanted Arafat to say it out loud, clearly, as part of a formal commitment. (And President Bill Clinton even personally traveled to Gaza to oversee a meeting of the Palestine National Council in which the Covenant was allegedly changed.)

It was only when Arafat was willing to say the right words, out loud, that Rabin agreed to proceed with the Oslo Accords. He wanted Arafat to say he recognized Israel in English, so he would be making the pledge before the international community. And, most important, to say it in Arabic, so that ordinary Palestinians would hear it.

Sending a message to the Palestinian masses was considered crucial. A peace agreement with an individual terrorist leader would be fragile indeed. What if he changed his mind –or dropped dead– after Israel had already surrendered strategically vital territories? A peace accord needed elements that would ensure that peace would be nurtured at the grassroots, so that young Palestinians would be raised to accept Israel’s existence.

Of course many of us doubted that Arafat’s words were sincere. And we took note when his Arabic-language media began promoting hate-Israel instead of accept-Israel themes. But at least on paper, he had recognized Israel and would be in violation of the accords if he failed to promote that recognition.

And that’s why Iranian recognition is so important today.

President Obama doesn’t think so. He told National Public Radio on April 6:  “The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”

The president has it all wrong. Of course one need not wait until the Iranian regime “completely transforms.” But unless Teheran is willing to publicly and explicitly agree to appropriate terms that it is pledging to observe in the future, there is no chance that it can be trusted to ever transform at all.

If the Iranians, as part of the nuclear deal, announced that they recognize Israel’s right to exist, it would send a powerful message to ordinary Iranians. It would be the start of the long process by which they will re-enter the civilized, peaceful world.

But if the Iranians are not willing to make even that small gesture, then we can be sure that they have not changed in any way, that they have no intention of trying to change the hearts and minds of the Iranian masses, and that they cannot be trusted to adhere to anything they sign.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of Philadelphia, and both are current candidates on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • robert davis

    rabin was such a fool he deserved his fate. Accepting a few words from a liar such as arafat and a man whose logical fight could only be the destruction of Israel to make an agreement such as oslo which is a disgrace for Israel was simply out of a madman’s deadbrain.It is like accepting a bulldozer in a house by a man who wants to destroy the house just because he accepted a cup of tea. This kind of politician should be in a psychiatric hospital.

  • How is it possible to TRUST two habitual deceives/liars and the byproduct of their arrogance is an agreement /treaty where both pledge to uphold their end.

    Wait, the Iran “Republic” (that alone would disqualify them of any shred of believability) has a long history of honesty and truthfulness. President Obama, leader of the free world (believe that and I will introduce you to Bernie Madoff for some good investment tips) is looking only to secure a legacy regardless of the harm and ruin it will do not just to the U.S. and Israel but, also, to the free world.

    ICBMs, S-300 missle “defense” system from America’s friend and partner Russia and 34 years of “Death to America” and the killing of 100s if not 1000s of Americans makes any agreement with these 7th Century barbarians not only a mistake but a gigantic disaster.

    Unfortunately, President Obama only represents himself and his interest and not those of the country he swore to secure and protect.

    The U.S. Congress under the lack of leadership of the Republican Speaker of the House and Majority leader of the Senate are too much like President Obama. They are conservatives not even in name but RHINOs who are looking out for themselves and the establishment Republican Party that looks to secure their seats of power and establish more control over the electorate. Back room deals, a lack of upholding their sworn oath and word to those who elected them plus a almost universal contempt for the citizens of the greatest Republic ever know to mankind.

    Words only have meaning when one deals with a trustworthy, moral, responsible and accountable individual. Look at the actions of what these flimflam men and women do.

  • I agree. Futhermore so long as Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel the U.S. is trading an ally for an enemy to it’s own detriment.

    This is worse than Munich where at least the allies appeased an aggressor state to forestall a real threat. The difference here is that appeasement of Iran will not forestall a threat. It will create a threat that didn’t exist before, namely the threat of a nuclear arms race in thre middle east.

  • Reform School

    London may be home to the BBC Whirled Servive, but there is nothing like Washington, DC, the city whose magic is tragic and where few things promised to a Jew ever come true. When all is said and done, far, far more will be said than done.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    Iranians will not, repeat not, change their minds!

  • sam

    It is very astounding how Israeli scholars views are distorded and incorrect when it comes to Iran, they even don’t know that masses in Iran don’t view Israel as masses in Arab streets or even Turkey, and that if Israel would have been less vocal and acted more smartly toward the people of Iran (like for example the way the US government did from last years of Bush tiLl now) they would have had much better position in masses views and although you might not believe it, consequently in authorities views and actions