J’lem unfazed by US stuttering over ‘Jewish state'

By
October 15, 2010 01:05

Sources close to PM note that Obama told UN: ‘Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people’

3 minute read.



US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

pj crowley 311. (photo credit: AP)

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley’s difficulty on Tuesday answering with a simple yes or no as to whether the US recognizes Israel as a Jewish state is no cause for concern, since Israel knows full well where Washington stands on the issue, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Thursday.

Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out that US President Barack Obama had been very clear on the matter in his address to the UN General Assembly last month.

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“Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” Obama said. “It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakable opposition of the United States.”

The official said that this made clear where the US stood on the matter.

Crowley, however, was much less direct in his answers to questions at Tuesday’s State Department briefing, expending some 2,000 words of convoluted diplomatese in addressing the matter.

An official in the Foreign Ministry said there was no discussion in the ministry about how long it had taken Crowley to finally answer whether the US recognized Israel as a Jewish state, and an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Crowley’s answer had not been raised there either.

The issue, however, gained traction in the last few days as Commentary’s Rick Richman put part of the transcript on the magazine’s blog:

QUESTION: “P.J., do you recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will you try to convince the Palestinians to recognize it?”

MR. CROWLEY: “We will continue our discussions with the parties. I would expect, following up on the Arab League meetings of late last week that [US envoy] George Mitchell will go to the region at some point. I’m not announcing anything, but I – it would be logical for us to follow up directly with the parties, see where they are...”

QUESTION: “And do you recognize Israel as a Jewish state?”

MR. CROWLEY: “We recognize the aspiration of the people of Israel. It has – it’s a democracy. In that democracy, there’s a guarantee of freedom and liberties to all of its citizens. But as the secretary has said, we understand that – the special character of the State of Israel.”

QUESTION: “Is that a yes or no?”

QUESTION: “P.J., it’s – do you want to answer his question or...”

QUESTION: “Did you say yes or no to that question from Michel?”

MR. CROWLEY: “Hmm?”

QUESTION: “Michel’s question was a yes or no sort of question. I was wondering whether that was a yes or no.”

MR. CROWLEY: “We recognize that Israel is a – as it says itself, is a Jewish state, yes...”

QUESTION: “... Does the US want the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?”

MR. CROWLEY: “Look, I will be happy to go back over and offer some – I’m trying – I’m not making any news here. We have recognized the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the Jewish people. It is a state for other citizens of other faiths as well.

“But this is the aspiration of the – what Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday is, in essence, the – a core demand of the Israeli government, which we support, is a recognition that Israel is a part of the region, acceptance by the region of the existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and that is what they want to see through this negotiation. We understand this aspiration and the prime minister was talking yesterday about the fact that just as they aspire to a state for the Jewish people in the Middle East, they understand the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own...”


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