The Trump administration may follow up its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed Saturday, and called on the Palestinian Authority to reconsider its ties with Israel. He also claimed the US could soon approve the annexation of settlements and reject the Palestinian demand for a “right of return.”
In fact, the US has always recognized Israel as the Jewish state. There has been no indication that the US plans to issue a fresh proclamation to this effect.
Speaking at a meeting in Gaza City, Haniyeh said the terror group had obtained information that such recognition could be the next step from Washington, but provided no details on where the information came from.
“We have information that the US administration may recognize Israel as a Jewish state, [let Israel] annex settlements, and abolish the Palestinian right to return,” said Haniyeh, whose Islamist terror group seeks to destroy Israel. (The Palestinian demand for a “right of return” of millions of refugees and their descendants to Israel has been rejected by all Israeli governments, since such an influx would destroy Israel’s Jewish majority. Israel’s position has generally been that the fate of the refugees is to be negotiated in final status talks on Palestinian statehood, and that a Palestinian state would absorb Palestinian refugees, as the state of Israel absorbed Jewish refugees.)
The UN’s 1947 partition plan specifically referred to a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Hours after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the US recognized it as a Jewish state. The White House stated: “This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel.”
In line with the consistent US position, president Barack Obama explicitly referred to Israel as the Jewish State, including in his 2014 State of the Union address: “As we speak,” Obama declared, “American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.”
Hamas has been using the outcry over US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem to urge Palestinians to violence. Since the declaration, Hamas has called on Palestinians to protest along the Gaza fence with Israel, enabled thousands of Gaza to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border, and urged a fresh violent intifada to liberate Jerusalem.
Also Saturday, Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party called for fresh protests and new ‘days of rage’ every day next week.
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long called for the Palestinians to do, as a means of showing they accept the right of Israel to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
The Palestinians have refused, and Palestinian politicians and media routinely deny the historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.
Haniyeh also called on the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority to reassess its ties with Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority is requested to take a clear position regarding the Oslo peace accords and security coordination with Israel,” the Hamas chief said. “Every step taken by the Israeli occupation is invalid,” he said.
In announcing US recognition of Jerusalem and his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, Trump said the move was merely recognition of reality and would not prejudge final status issues.
While the White House speech was followed by violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank and Gaza, the protests subsided considerably after the first week.
Eleven Palestinians have been killed in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza. Two of the Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Hamas bases following rocket fire.
On Friday, low-level scuffles between Palestinians and Border Police officers were reported in the Old City of Jerusalem as well.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting Trump’s Jerusalem recognition. The measure passed by a margin of 128-9, with 35 abstentions and 21 no-shows. It had previously been vetoed by the US in the Security Council. Israel dismissed the vote as “preposterous.”
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.