Israel to press demand for recognition as 'Jewish state'

JERUSALEM- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated his demand for the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, in remarks ahead of a second round of US-backed peace talks.
The demand, which has been repeatedly rejected by the Palestinians, could further complicate the newly relaunched negotiations which go into a second round in Egypt on Tuesday with the participation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Just as we are asked to recognise the Palestinian national state... we also demand and expect the Palestinians to recognise a Jewish state", Netanyahu said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting.
"This is the true foundation of peace", he added.
The two sides relaunched direct talks on September 2 after months of US pressure but remain deeply divided on the core issues of the conflict as well as the expiration of an Israeli settlement moratorium later this month.
Israel Hayom, a newspaper considered close to Netanyahu, said he wanted to first discuss security arrangements and the issue of recognition before addressing final borders.
"The prime minister has demanded a discussion about the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as proof of the seriousness of the Palestinians' intentions to put an end to the conflict", it said Sunday.
Israel's other main newspapers carried similar reports, all citing sources close to the talks. An Israeli government spokesman would not immediately comment on the reports.
The Palestinians refuse to recognise Israel as a Jewish state because they fear it would endanger their claim to a right of return for refugees who fled or were driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their descendants. Their fate has been a core dispute in previous peace talks.
The Palestinians also note that 20 percent of Israel's citizens are Muslim and Christian Arabs.

Monday, September 13th 2010

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