US denies Kerry pressing Arab League to recognize Israel as Jewish state

Efforts are not under way to alter Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, says US State Department.

January 10, 2014 00:23
1 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, January 5.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, January 5, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool)

With US Secretary of State John Kerry scheduled to meet top Arab League officials next week, State Department officials denied efforts were under way to get the league to alter its 2002 peace initiative and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, thereby paving the way for the Palestinians to do the same.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, at her daily press briefing Wednesday afternoon in Washington, denied reports that Kerry was pressing the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia to alter the Arab League peace initiative.

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Kerry met the kings of both countries on Sunday, and is scheduled to meet in Paris in the coming days with representatives of the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to update them on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as part of his continued efforts to drum up wide Arab support for the negotiations.

“It would not be accurate to say there was an attempt to change the Arab Peace Initiative,” Psaki said.

Despite persistent questioning on the matter, Psaki would not say whether the US would like to see a change on this matter in the Arab league plan.

When asked whether the US wanted to see the Arab world recognize Israel as a Jewish state, she replied, “We want to see them support, which they’ve indicated they would, a final-status agreement between the parties. What is included in there is not yet determined.”

Psaki would not address the issues of whether the US was pressuring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

There is considerable speculation that if the Palestinian Authority would show flexibility on the recognition issue, Israel would be more flexible on its demand that the basis for a continuation of the negotiations be on the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps.

Kerry is to leave Saturday for Paris and Kuwait City for meetings focusing on Syria, and is scheduled to return to Washington next Wednesday.

No formal announcement has been made of a visit to Israel, though there is considerable expectation that he will indeed return here next week to push forward work on an American proposal of basic principles that would form the basis for further negotiation toward a final agreement.

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