Last week, Israel’s right-wing parties condemned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that it would be a “mistake” to pursue Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, breaking promises by the Obama administration. On Saturday, Israel’s left-wing agreed, with Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, who is also the leader of the opposition, saying Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a final deal.
Herzog’s comment to Israel Radio, reported by the Times of Israel, confirmed that the demand for recognition as a Jewish state is one that unites Israelis across the political spectrum. However, it is one that the Palestinian leadership and the Arab League have rejected in recent weeks. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which forms the basis of the Obama administration’s efforts, merely calls for recognizing Israel, but not Jews’ right to a state.
On Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. Abbas is expected to reiterate Palestinian opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and to insist on a construction freeze in Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a condition for continuing talks past a U.S.-imposed deadline in April. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Obama two weeks ago.