European UN draft likely to reference Israel’s Jewish nature

Options include ‘Jewish homeland,’ ‘Jewish and democratic state’ or mere mention of 1947 partition plan

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2013. (photo credit: Edi Israel/PooL/Flash90)
French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2013. (photo credit: Edi Israel/PooL/Flash90)

The European proposal for a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state will probably include a reference to Israel as a Jewish state, The Times of Israel has learned.

No final text has yet been agreed upon, and it remains unclear how explicit the reference would be. But all states working on the draft resolution are in favor of mentioning, in some way or another, Israel’s Jewish character, according to several European diplomats.

Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people is a key demand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for any peace agreement.

Since the Palestinian leadership announced several weeks ago that it will seek a Security Council resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines within two years, France, Germany and Britain — the so-called E3 — have been working on an alternative resolution, which also calls for Palestinian statehood but would be worded less critically of Israel and thus more acceptable to Jerusalem and Washington.

The European draft is often referred to as the French draft because Paris is leading the effort.

The Palestinians this week said Jordan would submit a resolution on their behalf on Wednesday. The United States has yet to state whether it would veto it, a step that would become necessary if nine or more council members voted in favor of the Palestinian draft.

Washington is said to be backing the French draft, which would call for a peace agreement within two 24 months and the creation of a Palestinian state with borders based on the 1967 lines and East Jerusalem as its capital. However, the European text would also speak of the need for “mutual recognition” and make some reference to Israel’s Jewish nature.

The Palestinians are adamant in their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or as the nation state of the Jewish people.

According to several European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, all four countries working on the alternative draft are in favor of including some kind of reference to Israel’s Jewish character, but it has not been decided how exactly it would be phrased.

Some would like the resolution to state that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Others prefer a reference to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” A third version that has been discussed would not make explicit mention of Israel’s Jewish character but refer to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 — the so-called Partition Plan — which mentioned the words “Jewish state” 30 times.

The Germans and the Americans have long agreed that Israel ought to be recognized as a Jewish state. However, the recent debate of the government’s planned “nation-state” bill, which would enshrine in a Basic Law Israel’s Jewish character, has further complicated the debate over the right formulation, according to a European diplomat.

Israel vigorously rejects any unilateral action calling for it to withdraw from the West Bank, with or without mention of Israel’s Jewishness.

“The attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel; therefore, we will strongly oppose this,” Netanyahu said Monday in Rome after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The prime minister did not reveal whether Kerry promised him to veto the Palestinian resolution. Senior Israeli officials said that it has been US policy to prevent the passing of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN for decades and that there is no reason for Washington to change this policy.

Last week, Netanyahu spoke to France’s president, Francois Hollande, to protest the European bid at the Security Council. “I told Hollande that I think this move is a negative one and will backfire,” the prime minister told reporters in Rome. “Such a move is contrary to a peace agreement, it will thwart all future negotiations and bring about an escalation,” he said, according to Haaretz. “Hollande listened, and I don’t want to say what he said, but I said things very clearly.”

Most Popular
read more: