Oren: Israel will demand recognition as Jewish state

Israel's US envoy says recognition not a precondition for talks, but necessary to show Israel is "permanent and legitimate."

July 30, 2013 01:47
Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren

Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren.. (photo credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters)

WASHINGTON – Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday that Israel is “predicated on having a Jewish majority,” and that any final-status agreement with the Palestinians will require their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

“It means the Jewish state is permanent and legitimate,” said Oren of such recognition, adding, “We’re not asking the Palestinians to do it upfront.”

Zakaria asked Oren what that would mean for Arab Israelis, who are more than 20 percent of the population, and why a religion should be the basis for a state’s identity.

Oren responded that the Jews are not just a religious group.

“The Jews are a people, and we have a right to self-determination,” Oren said. “We are a nation-state.”

Oren said he had been instructed by the State Department not to talk about the peace process openly.

But he added that, “with creativity and good will,” he believed the two parties will be able to solve the problem of Jerusalem’s status, one of the conflict’s thorniest issues.

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