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
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
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
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
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.