[Published 13 October 2011]
Israel’s plea to be recognised as the Jewish State in return for the implementation of a new building freeze in the West Bank very quickly got the thumbs down from the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s Prime Minister - Benjamin Netanyahu - was surely clutching at straws in expecting a positive response when he told Israel’s Parliament on 10 October:
“If the Palestinian leadership will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, I will be ready to convene my government and request a further suspension,”
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that such a demand could never be accepted. He was only repeating what he has said over and over again for many years. Erekat has been consistent during this period in his unrelenting objection to the Jews having a country where they will always constitute the majority.
America - however - made it perfectly clear that Israel’s request to be recognized by the Palestinian Authority as the homeland of the Jewish people was non-negotiable when State Department spokesman P J Crowley declared:
“I’m not making any news here, We have recognized the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the Jewish people. It is a state for other citizens of other faiths as well. But this is the aspiration of the – what Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu said yesterday is, in essence, the – a core demand of the Israeli government, which we support, is a recognition that Israel is a part of the region, acceptance by the region of the existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People and that is what they want to see through this negotiation.”
What then is the purpose of continuing the façade of negotiations in the face of this irreconcilable impasse between Jewish expectations and a continuing Arab state of denial?
Israel needs to introduce a circuit breaker - one that places the ball firmly in the Arab court. The Arabs can then decide whether to negotiate with the Jews or not on the final allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and the acceptance of each other‘s right to exist.
Such a result can be swiftly and effectively achieved by Israel renaming itself officially as “THE DEMOCRATIC JEWISH REPUBLIC OF ISRAEL" - or some other suitable name.
This would in one fell swoop create the appropriate description of what the Jewish State actually is and what it actually represents in the eyes of the world and its own citizens.
Ironically Israel’s bitterest Arab enemies and some of its Arab treaty partners have no problems in so describing the character of their own States in their official titles.
Some examples of those countries and their official names are:
1. Libya - “The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”
2. Jordan - “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”
3 Syria - “The Syrian Arab Republic”
4. Egypt - “The Arab Republic of Egypt”
5. Iran - “The Islamic Republic of Iran”
6. Emirates - “The United Arab Emirates”
Had Israel’s founding fathers been influenced to go beyond the bland title of “The State of Israel” perhaps the political situation would have been entirely different today.
David Ben Gurion - then the representative of the Jewish Agency - had made an impassioned appeal to the United Nations Special Committee On Palestine on 4 July 1947 when he stated:
“And here we are, not only we the Jews of Palestine, but the Jews throughout the world the small remnant of European Jewry and Jews in other countries. We claim our rightful place under the sun as human beings and as a people, the same right as other human beings and peoples possess, the right to security, freedom, equality, statehood and membership in the United Nations. No individual Jew can be really free, secure and equal anywhere in the world as long as the Jewish people as a people is not again rooted in its own country as an equal and independent nation.
An international undertaking was given to the Jewish people some thirty years ago in the Balfour Declaration and in the Mandate for Palestine, to reconstitute our national home in our ancient homeland. This undertaking originated with the British people and the British Government. It was supported and confirmed by 52 nations and embodied in an international instrument known as the Mandate for Palestine. The Charter of the United Nations seeks to maintain “justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law.” Is it too presumptuous on our part to expect that the United Nations will see that obligations to the Jewish people too are respected and faithfully carried out in the spirit and the letter? “
The United Nations indeed heeded this appeal when recommending the partition of western Palestine into an “Arab” state and a “Jewish” state. The Arabs rejected Ben Gurion’s plea and their view still remains unchanged in 2010.
Rejection of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine is writ large in the Covenant of the Palestine Liberation Organization whose current Chairman is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
However, the same Mr. Abbas also gave his blessing to Israel changing its name when he said on 27 April 2009 in Ramallah - in response to Mr Netanyahu then calling on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as the Jewish State:
“I do not accept it. It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic — it is none of my business,”
Israel should now take up Mr Abbas’s suggestion and gauge the Palestinian Authority’s reaction to such a re-branding.
Playing the name game - or the shame game - will surely end the current standoff in the stalled negotiations.
The Palestinian Authority can continue to negotiate with Israel - but in the knowledge that in signing any agreements it will be doing so with the Democratic Jewish State of Israel.
Abbas has said he can live with such a proposal. He should now be asked to rise to the challenge or be put out to pasture if he fails to do so.