dinsdag 13 november 2007

Erekat: Palestijnen zullen Israël niet als Joodse staat accepteren

Erekat onderhandelt al jaren met Israël, maar meent nog steeds dat de Joden geen volk zijn maar een religie en daarom geen recht hebben op een eigen staat.
In een interview met Israel Radio zei hij dat "geen staat in de wereld zijn nationale identiteit aan een religieuze identiteit verbindt."

Er zijn verschillende landen die dit doen, zoals Iran of Saoedi-Arabië, en er zijn verschillende andere landen waar één religie de officiële staatsreligie is, al is iedereen vrij om een ander geloof aan te hangen. In de VS is een niet-christelijke president ondenkbaar, en een niet-islamitische Palestijnse president is eveneens moeilijk voorstelbaar.

Dit is de kern van het probleem. Een twee-statenoplossing ja, maar Israël als Joodse staat - dat wil zeggen het recht op zelfbeschikking van de Joden in Israël erkennen - nee. Het moet duidelijk worden dat een 'twee-staten oplossing' een vaag begrip is dat van alles kan betekenen, maar niet noodzakelijkerwijs twee staten voor twee volken. Hoe kan Israël haar bevolking overtuigen land op te geven voor een Palestijnse staat, zolang de Palestijnen niet bereid zijn Israël te erkennen?

Erekat: Palestinians will not accept Israel as 'Jewish state'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service Last update - 18:33 12/11/2007

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."

Also Monday, dozens of prominent Palestinian residents of Jerusalem published an appeal to the Abbas, asking him not to make concessions to Israel over the holy city in the upcoming talks.

The full-page newspaper ad, signed by 108 prominent Jerusalemites, including top Christian and Muslim leaders, did not make specific demands. However, the signatories asked Abbas not to negotiate a deal that would "violate our national rights."

"Israel should return all of east Jerusalem, the area it captured in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed to its capital," said signatory Adnan Hussein, an adviser to Abbas on Jerusalem affairs.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the starting point for all negotiations with the Palestinians will be the "recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people,

This recognition is meant to bolster Israel's position that rejects the return of Palestinian refugees to areas inside the Green Line - the border before the 1967 Six-Day War.

"We won't hold negotiations on our existence as a Jewish state, this is a launching point for all negotiations," Olmert said.

"We won't have an argument with anyone in the world over the fact that Israel is a state of the Jewish people. Whoever does not accept this cannot hold any negotiations with me. This has been made clear to the Palestinians and the Americans. I have no doubt that Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] and [PA premier Salam] Fayad are committed to prior agreements and want to make peace with Israel as a Jewish state," Olmert continued.

Olmert also stated this position at a meeting on Sunday to discuss the peace summit scheduled for the end of the month in Annapolis and the negotiations toward a final-settlement agreement. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the heads of the intelligence services attended the meeting.

Olmert told the gathering that immediately at the start of negotiations following the summit, Israel will set a precondition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as "a Jewish state."

"I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state," Olmert said, thereby accepting the position of Livni and Barak. "This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state."

Olmert said he raised the importance of this issue during his talks with European and American officials, and their response had been positive.

However, during talks in recent weeks between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, the Palestinians refused to include the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in the shared declaration the teams are preparing, which will be made at Annapolis. Erekat's statement to Israel Radio on Monday did not seem to imply that refusal would waver ahead of the summit.

Olmert also confirmed at Monday's meeting that talks with the Palestinians were proceeding in a new direction, toward negotiations over a final-status deal, despite the fact that the first stage of the U.S.-backed road map had not been implemented.

The first stage of the road map calls on the Palestinians to dismantle terror groups. The sides had agreed recently that talks would proceed according to the document.

In recent weeks, politicians from the right, especially MK Yisrael Katz (Likud), have taken to accusing the government of holding negotiations outside of road map dictates.

Olmert essentially confirmed those accusations. "There is a new outline," he said. "The traditional position has been that there will be no road map implementation without the first phase. I came to the conclusion that we are somewhat able to change the tradition."

Meanwhile, despite Palestinian claims that there is a crisis in the talks, Livni and Qureia exchanged drafts of the joint declaration that Israel and the Palestinians are to present at the Annapolis summit.

Government officials did not deny reports in recent days that Israel had surprisingly softened its stance on the core issues - particularly on borders and Jerusalem.

The prime minister was scheduled to appear before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday morning to present the principles that will guide Israel in the negotiations with the Palestinians.

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