Israel: Conflict over recognition, not territoryBy ARON HELLER
The Associated Press | May 02,2013JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister insisted Wednesday that the conflict with the Palestinians is not about territory, rather the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, appearing to counter a modified peace proposal from the Arab world.
Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented directly on the Arab League’s latest initiative, but his words questioned its central tenet — the exchange of captured land for peace.
The original 2002 Arab initiative offered a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Muslim world in exchange for a withdrawal from all territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Sweetening the offer this week, the Arab sponsor said final borders could be drawn through mutually agreed land swaps.
Netanyahu questioned the premise that borders are the key.
“The root of the conflict isn’t territorial. It began way before 1967,” he told Israeli diplomats. “The Palestinians’ failure to accept the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict. If we reach a peace agreement, I want to know that the conflict won’t continue — that the Palestinians won’t come later with more demands.”
The Palestinians have rejected Netanyahu’s demand to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, saying it would undermine the rights of Israel’s Arab minority as well as millions of refugees scattered throughout the world whose families lost properties during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948. The fate of the refugees is a core issue that would need to be resolved as part of a final peace deal.
Though Netanyahu’s office has remained silent on the modified Arab proposal, his chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, has welcomed it, as have Israel’s president and the main opposition parties. However, Netanyahu’s own political base and one of his main government coalition partners are either opposed to giving up land or suspicious of the Arabs’ motivations.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani tried to allay some of the Israeli concerns as he presented the offer on Monday.
Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation, he reiterated the need to base an agreement between Israel and a future Palestine on the 1967 lines, but for the first time, he cited the possibility of “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The U.S. has been trying to restart long-frozen peace talks with the Palestinians, and Secretary of State John Kerry called the new peace plan a “very big step forward.” Palestinian officials were cool to the concept.
The original 2002 Arab peace initiative offered Israel peace with the entire Arab world in exchange for a “complete withdrawal” from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all seized by Israel in 1967, for their future state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Though the latest proposal appears aimed at the Palestinians, the original formula refers to other territories as well. Israel also captured the Sinai from Egypt and Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war, withdrawing from Sinai in 1982. Peace talks between Israel and Syria over the fate of the Golan failed more than a decade ago.MORE IN Wire NewsHARTFORD, Conn. — Richard C. Full StoryVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis rightly got credit for helping bring the U.S. Full StoryMAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Islamic extremists killed 35 people and kidnapped at least 185 in an attack... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Vermont Gas Systems puts Phase 2 on hold as the latest estimate for Phase 1 takes a 27 percent leap upward, to a total of $157 million; U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin quits for job with private firm; police cite man in pot bust.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1972, Christmas bombing of North Vietnam ordered by President Richard Nixon, most lethal strikes of the war; in 1989, U.S. invades Panama to depose, arrest and charge Gen. Manuel Noriega with drug trafficking, racketeering.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Gov. Peter Shumlin announces demise of his single-payer health insurance initiative; convicted first-degree murderer Alan Prue sentenced to 50 years for killing teacher Melissa Jenkins; veterans chafed about park naming snub.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 497 BC, first Saturnalia festival celebrated in Rome, Scandinavians retain 'Yule Goat' as symbol of season, Krampus, evil side of holiday cheer, terrorizes children into better behavior, more advice from Christopher Hitchens.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 533 AD, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I gets the old empire back together again routing the Vandals from Carthage; in 1890, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull is killed at his home in South Dakota; in 1970, Soviets land probe on Venus.
- DUANE CARLETON: Rutland Herald Events Editor George Nostrand interviews musician Duane Carleton, whose new CD 'A GIRL LIKE THAT' drops Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, and will be celebrated that evening with a show at 9:30 p.m. at Killington's Pickle Barrel.