On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wondered aloud, “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?” There may be several ways to spin that, but here’s Abbas’s own explanation:
[I]t’s not his job to define the state of Israel. “Name yourself, it’s not my business,” He said. “All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don’t accept.”
His words will make it much easier for Netanyahu in the domestic arena. Most Israelis, I suspect, will find the response of Israel’s Foreign Ministry more than reasonable:
“Recognizing Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is a crucial and necessary stage in the historical reconciliation process between Israelis and the Palestinians,” the ministry said in a statement. “The sooner the Palestinians internalize this basic fact, the sooner the peace between our nations will progress.”
And Israelis will find that response even more reasonable after they read this in Haaretz’s report on the controversy: “Palestinians fear recognition of Israel as a Jewish state could help Israeli leaders resist any return of Palestinian refugees.”
Abbas’s outburst will end up strengthening both Netanyahu the man and his policy of demanding “Jewish” recognition.