But even when the claim of recognizing Israel was being made, it turns out the Palestinians never meant as a Jewish state, or that they would give up the "right of return." The upshot is that the US needs to go back a step. It thought it had checked off the mutual recognition thing: in 1988, 1993, when the PLO supposedly amended its covenant, and again at the Akaba summit in 2003. Now it should be clear that as long as the Palestinians deny Jewish peoplehood, the Jewish connection to the land (as Arafat denied any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount at Camp David), and claim a right to live in Israel, their talk of recognizing Israel's right to exist is meaningless.I just don't know what effect it would have for any US president to say anything about what we want of the Palestinians.
Realizing this, at Akaba Bush spoke of America's commitment to Israel as a Jewish state. Even this oblique reference to Israel's Jewishness - banal for everyone else - was anathema for the Palestinians. Ahmed Qurei, now Palestinian prime minister, described Bush's speaking of a Jewish state as "a cause for our concern... this should not have been said."
If Bush is to save his two-state vision, the antidote is clear. Just as he regularly speaks of a Palestinian state, Bush should routinely state, until it becomes uncontroversial, that there is no "right of return" to Israel, the national home of the Jewish people.
This is latent US policy, just as support for a Palestinian state was latent for many years. Continuing to keep it latent now gives the terrorists hope, because it says to them that even the US is afraid to speak clearly regarding this fundamental challenge to Israel's existence.
If 2004 is to be a better year, this taboo must be broken.
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Saul Singer calls for Bush to come out publicly against the so-called "right of return."
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 8:30 PM