Israeli officials slam Kerry for remarks on Jewish state recognition

Deputy FM Ze'ev Elkin says easier for int'l community to pressure Israel rather than Palestinians.

March 16, 2014 07:46
1 minute read.

US Secretary of State John Kerry.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Various Israeli officials criticized on Sunday morning US Secretary of State John Kerry for saying it was a mistake in the diplomatic process for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to insist the Palestinians make a public declaration of Israel's Jewish character.

On Thursday, Kerry told members of Congress that international law already defined Israel as a Jewish state, and called Netanyahu’s continued call for a public declaration of Israel’s Jewish character from the Palestinians “a mistake.”

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio that it was unfortunate that the top US diplomat made the comments ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's arrival to Washington on Monday.

Erdan charged that Kerry had erred in marking the statements and said they put pressure on the wrong side.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin told Israel Radio that Kerry's remarks represented a pattern that had developed over the past 20 years, in which the international community finds it easier to pressure Israel rather than the Palestinians, despite who it believes is in the right.

Elkin called for Israel to stand up for its principles and bring an end to the "sad tradition."

In an interview that aired Saturday on Channel 2’s Meet the Press, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon disputed Kerry’s contention that Israel erred in demanding Palestinian recognition of its Jewish character.

Ya’alon said that Abbas has persistently refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and it is this refusal that makes it impossible to arrive at a final-peace deal. 

Abbas left on Saturday for the United States where he was slated to meet with Obama on Monday to discuss the issues relating to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The US president met with Netanyahu in the White House earlier this month.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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