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As right wing Zionists and Palestinian extremists go to the trenches in preparation for the Annapolis conference, the Palestinian negotiator Saeeb Erekat reminded us what it is really all about. It is not about United Jerusalem, though that is important (don't forget to vote in our poll on Jerusalem). It is not about 1967 borders. It is not about this settlement or that settlement. It is not about checkpoints, or the security fence. It is not about a settlement freeze.

Here is the core issue of the conflict, that must be addressed before any others:

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, rejected on Monday the government's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Erekat said that "no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity."

Erekat is not stupid. He knows very well that "Jewish" refers to a people as well as to a religion. There can be no peace between the Palestinian people and the Jewish people, until the Palestinian people recognize and admit that there is a Jewish people, and that we have at least as much right to a state of our own as they do. It is simply incredible, that in all his years of contact with representatives of the Israel government, Saeeb Erekat never learned that there is such a thing as the Jewish people, never understood the basis of Zionism, and that Palestinians would never be able to make peace with Israel, and never get their own state, if they were unwilling to accept the right of the Jewish people to a state.

No other clause of any peace agreement is as important for Israel as Palestinian recognition of the existence of the Jewish people, and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.

If the Palestinians do not recognize the rights of the Jewish people, do not even recognize the existence of the Jewish people, then what is the meaning of the slogan, "Two states for two peoples?"

It is absurd to expect that Israel can make peace without that recognition. It is a signal failure of the Israeli government if that point was not stressed in previous negotiations. After all these years, it seems we are back to square one, precisely where we were in 1947 or 1936.

It is to the credit of the Olmert government that the issue was raised now.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000448.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 3 Comments

Of course he won't recognise Israel as a Jewish state. One of the things to be decided during the negotiations is the "right to return". Palestinians who were displaced from areas which are now inside Israel would like (in many cases) to go back.

If the Palestinian negotiating team agreed that Israel was inherently Jewish, they would be conceding this point before they ever got to any substantive talks.

Of course it might be conceded right at the end, as part of a compromise peace deal, but they would be a bit silly to give it up now and get nothing in return.

Pete, Sunday, November 18th

I know that I am lacking in the sophistication of someone so emminent as Saeb Erekat but don't these exerts from the Palestinian constitution suggest that Islam does play a significant part in defining a Palestinian and Palestine?

"Article (5) - Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion.
Article (7) - The principles of Islamic Shariía are a major source for legislation."

In addition while Mr Erekay seems long on aspiration, he seems short on practicalities. Could someone elicit from him just what he has on offer to induce the current Israelis to acquiesce into surrender their entire state, including all its assets, unto a government led by his friends?

Rod Davies, Tuesday, November 13th

There are times when it suits those who hate Jews to refer to us as a racial or national entity. There are other times when it suits them to refer to us as a simply a misbegotten religious group. I suggest that during the Hitler era, the "Palestinians" wouldn't have hesitated to regard us in the former category.

Howard Wolf, Tuesday, November 13th

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