Peres: Palestinian recognition of Jewish state ‘unnecessary’

President echoes Lapid’s criticism of Netanyahu’s demand, saying it is an impediment to US-mediated peace talks

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Shimon Peres (photo credit: Peter Dejong/AP)
Shimon Peres (photo credit: Peter Dejong/AP)

President Shimon Peres deems Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that the Palestinian leadership recognize Israel as a Jewish state “unnecessary,” Israel Hayom reported Wednesday, citing conversations between the president and diplomatic officials.

According to the report, Peres called Netanyahu’s demand was an impediment to US-mediated negotiations that could otherwise yield a peace accord.

As the two Israeli leaders arrived in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, the newspaper said relations between them were “strained.”

Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinian Authority declare its recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as a prerequisite for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-on on Wednesday called Netanyahu’s demand “nonsense,” saying there was no need for his insistence for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Peres’s criticism of the demand echoed that of Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who told Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose in October that Israel didn’t “need” recognition from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“I don’t feel we need a declaration from the Palestinians that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Lapid said.

“My father didn’t come to Haifa from the Budapest ghetto in order to get recognition from [Abbas],” he added.

“The whole concept, to me, of the State of Israel is that we recognize ourselves, that after 2,000 years of being dependent on other people, we are now independent and we make our own rules.”

Netanyahu’s demand was underscored this week by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who ahead of his six-day trip to the region issued a press release calling on Abbas to negotiate with the “Jewish state of Israel.”

Harper, who arrived in Israel Sunday for his first official visit since taking office, has garnered much praise from Israeli leaders for his support of the Jewish state and for standing up against anti-Semitism.

“This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership,” Netanyahu said upon Harper’s arrival.

“He has come out strongly against attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and has taken a praiseworthy moral stand against these attempts. I welcome his arrival together with his wife and the members of his delegation. We will work together to further enhance the important relations between our two countries.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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