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Just to preclude reaching peace

Jan 11,2014 - Last updated at Jan 11,2014

There are many fundamental issues that still divide Israel and the Palestinians, among which the extent of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the future status of East Jerusalem, the Israeli demand to make the Jordan River its security border and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.

Recently, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added yet another complication to the already complex peace equation, insisting that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

I would not make this particular issue stand in the way of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the entire West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and granting the right of return by the Palestinian refugees.

I would put this issue on the back burner, pending the resolution of the other issues of interest to the Palestinians.

Calling Israel a Jewish state is admittedly flawed, according to international norms and the true nature of the country. Still, the Jewish character of Israel should be left until the last stage of negotiations with the Palestinians.

This emotionally charged issue can still be settled in a manner acceptable to both sides by simply accepting Israel as a Jewish state with a sizeable Arab minority.

This would not only reflect the facts on the ground, but would also comply with international standards.

Israel can call itself whatever it wants, provided it agrees to a complete withdrawal from the West Bank, accepts East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, renounces its claim to the Jordan River as its Eastern security border and complies with the relevant UN resolutions on the right of return for the Palestinian refugees.

However, given the “history” of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, I doubt that the two sides will ever reach the point of what to call Israel.

In any case, Netanyahu has added this latest complication for only one purpose: to further block any advances in the peace process.

No doubt he will think of something else in due course to stop peace talks from ever coming to fruition.

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