Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu turned the tables on the Palestinian Authority recently when he offered to extend his government’s moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The move was intended to salvage the faltering US-mediated direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has insisted he will boycott for as long as any settlement activity continues.
Netanyahu’s bold offer came after several weeks of suspense regarding how he would deal with the moratorium demand. He said Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” would send an important positive message to the Israeli people regarding Palestinian intentions.
But senior PA officials rejected out of hand the “racist demands of Netanyahu.” PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was clear in saying: “We forcefully reject all these Israeli games.”
“If the Israelis want to call themselves any name, they should address the international community and the United Nations, because this is none of our business,” Abbas caustically added.
The deft move by Netanyahu has effectively exposed the PA’s naked attempts to set preconditions for direct talks while denying Israel the same right. It has also exposed the Arab world’s own racism and hypocrisy toward Israel, given that other regional Arab leaders agreed it was “impossible” to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state, claiming that nations should not have such ethnic designations.
Among those concurring was Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, which is ironic given that the official name of his country is the “Arab Republic of Egypt.”
Consider all the other regional states that are officially declared to be “Arab” nations. The “Syrian Arab Republic” is ruled by a lone political faction, the “Arab Baath Socialist Party,” according to its constitution.
Jordan is a monarchy ruled by a royal family originally from Arabia which claims direct descent from Muhammad.
Meantime, when Saudi Arabia brokered the 1990 Taif Accords to end the 15-year Lebanese civil war, it forced Lebanon to officially declare itself to be an “Arab nation,” even though many of its citizens consider themselves proud descendants of the ancient Phoenicians.
Elsewhere in the region we find the “United Arab Emirates,” and the gregariously named “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Republic.”
Even Turkey has no room to criticize Israel on this account. After its invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Turkey moved in to establish the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
Now it just so happens that numerous regional rulers – including Palestinian leaders Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas as well as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – have also argued over the years that the Jewish people represent a religion “of the Book” and thus are entitled to protected dhimmi status under Islam, but they are not an ethnic people entitled to their own nation. By extension, they contend that states cannot be established based on a religion as a matter of right.
Yet again, we are all quite familiar with the fact that ancient Persia has officially become the “Islamic Republic of Iran.” It is also a fact that Western forces have been bleeding and dying to defend a certain nation whose official name is the “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” which is neighbored by the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
In Iran, the constitution imposed after the Khomeini revolution in 1979 states that sovereignty actually rests with Allah. All major decisions are effectively under the power of the Supreme Leader, a Muslim cleric, while a Council of Guardians was established to ensure that all articles of the Constitution as well as other laws are based on Islamic criteria.
Saudi Arabia’s government is an Islamic absolute monarchy, and the Koran has been officially declared to be its constitution.
In fact, Islam is presently the official religion in Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Many of these countries are governed by constitutions which cite the Koran and Shari’a as the main source of civil and criminal law.
So whatever objections the Palestinians and the wider Arab/Muslim world have to recognizing Israel as the lone Jewish state on this planet, they assuredly collapse under the weight of their own blinding bigotry.