Oren Dorell, USA Today
Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to
allow a long-term Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley goes
against core elements of any peace deal that would be acceptable to
Israel, Israel's ambassador to Washington told USA TODAY.
they're not willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, then there
will not be an agreement," Ambassador Ron Dermer said while speaking to
the paper's editorial board.
Israel also insists on maintaining a
security presence in the Jordan Valley, between a future Palestinian
state and Jordan, and will never rely on foreign forces to guarantee
security given that such arrangements have worked out poorly for Israel
in the past, Dermer said.
"We do not ask other countries to fight our battles," he said.
Dermer spoke in response to comments made by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who told The New York Times over the weekend that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state "is out of the question."
also said he would agree to allow Israeli forces to stay five years in
the West Bank, while they transfer security to NATO and Jordanian troops
that could stay as long as they wish and operate anywhere in the
territory, the Times reported.
"We will be demilitarized,"
Abbas said. "Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any
security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?"
sparring comes as an April 29 deadline looms for peace talks restarted
by Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry is preparing a "framework" for
an American vision of how to make peace and resolve core issues
including borders, security, Palestinian refugees, the status of
Jerusalem and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, according to the
Abbas said neither Jordan nor Egypt recognized
Israel as a Jewish state when they signed peace treaties with it. But
Dermer said the Palestinians' refusal is different because such
recognition would mean they relinquish forever any claim to Israeli
lands once considered part of Palestine.
Dermer said the military conflicts between Israel and neighboring
states and terror groups stems from the refusal of some Arab states and
groups to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
If the Jewish nature of Israel is declared legitimate by a Palestinian
state, then Israel will know that a decades-long attempt to destroy it
is at an end, he said.
If the Palestinians refuse, Israel will know why, he said.
refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state means they
(Palestinians) want a Palestinian State not to end the conflict, but to
continue the conflict," Dermer said.
The issue of recognition
would also affect Palestinian demands that refugees displaced in wars
and their descendants, who now number in the millions, should be granted
the right to return to Israel. Israel objects because they would swamp
the Jewish majority.
On the idea of allowing NATO troops to
provide police security, Dermer said history shows that the use of
foreign peacekeepers to protect Israel has been a failure when the
troops were subjected to constant attack.
United Nations troops in
southern Lebanon failed to prevent Hezbollah from kidnapping Israeli
soldiers, or from building an arsenal of rockets that it fired at
Israel. United Nations troops in the Golan cleared out under fire during
the Syrian civil war. And United Nations troops in the Sinai peninsula
have not prevented a growing al-Qaeda presence there, or attacks on
Israeli troops and communities, Dermer said.
Strong security provided by Israeli troops will be necessary because
opponents of a deal will seek to derail an agreement, Dermer said.
the Gaza strip, which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas and
not by Abbas' Fatah party, Hamas will oppose any deal Abbas signs,
Referring to Abbas by his nickname, Dermer said: "If
Abu Mazen signs a peace agreement, you know what will happen? Hamas will
oppose it. Rockets will be fired at Israel. People will attack that
peace agreement because they don't want it to happen."
Bank "will become a magnet for al-Qaeda and others; it will put enormous
pressures on Jordan as well," Dermer said. "Abu Mazen is willing to
have foreign forces (in the Jordan Valley), so the issue is not
sovereignty, he just doesn't want Israeli forces, which have proven to
be the only effective force here."