Michael Oren, the historian who is the current Israeli ambassador to the USA, has written an op-ed in the NY Times about the Israeli demand to be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians.
Affirmation of Israel’s Jewishness, however, is the very foundation of peace, its DNA. Just as Israel recognizes the existence of a Palestinian people with an inalienable right to self-determination in its homeland, so, too, must the Palestinians accede to the Jewish people’s 3,000-year connection to our homeland and our right to sovereignty there. This mutual acceptance is essential if both peoples are to live side by side in two states in genuine and lasting peace.
So why won’t the Palestinians reciprocate? After all, the Jewish right to statehood is a tenet of international law. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 called for the creation of â€œa national home for the Jewish peopleâ€ in the land then known as Palestine and, in 1922, the League of Nations cited the â€œhistorical connection of the Jewish peopleâ€ to that country as â€œthe grounds for reconstituting their national home.â€ In 1947, the United Nations authorized the establishment of â€œan independent Jewish state,â€ and recently, while addressing the General Assembly, President Obama proclaimed Israel as â€œthe historic homeland of the Jewish people.â€ Why, then, can’t the Palestinians simply say â€œIsrael is the Jewish stateâ€?
He doesn’t quite answer his own question, but he does conclude by stating that:
The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the refusal to recognize Jews as a people, indigenous to the region and endowed with the right to self-government. Criticism of Israeli policies often serves to obscure this fact, and peace continues to elude us. By urging the Palestinians to recognize us as their permanent and legitimate neighbors, Prime Minister Netanyahu is pointing the way out of the current impasse: he is identifying the only path to co-existence.