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Palestinian foreign minister says Kerry is trying to persuade the Arabs to endorse Israel's Jewish identity

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki has confirmed that US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet on Sunday with several Arab foreign ministers in Paris, in an attempt to persuade them to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.


Al-Maliki told Palestinian radio on Thursday that, "Kerry's proposed ideas are closer to the Israeli government's views" than to the Palestinians, adding that: "the US Secretary of State visited Jordan and Saudi Arabia during his recent trip to the Middle East to convince them to endorse Israel's Jewish identity, a request which the Palestinians have opposed."

Al-Maliki explained that the Palestinian Foreign Ministry will meet with the Arab foreign ministers before their scheduled meeting with Kerry to urge them to reject the idea and to brief them on the latest developments in the political process. He expressed hope that the Arab countries will support the Palestinians who refuse to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

The secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, had said earlier this week that an Arab ministerial delegation will meet with Kerry in Paris on Sunday. Elaraby explained to reporters at the league's headquarters in Cairo that: "Kerry had asked to meet with the Arab committee that follows up with the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations happening under the auspices of the US."

The Arab ministerial delegation will include Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted on Wednesday an Israeli official saying that: "Kerry asked the King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, and the King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, to urge the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state during his meeting with them last Sunday in Amman and in Riyadh." The newspaper noted that the Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but was described as being "significant", suggested that the American request came in response to Israel's demand to continue the negotiations with the Palestinians, without indicating either the Saudi or the Jordanian position on the matter. However the official did say that Kerry asked the two kings to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas if he decided to agree to the American-Israeli request.

Kerry concluded on Monday his tenth visit to the region since taking office in February of last year. His visit lasted for five days, during which time he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in West Jerusalem and President Abbas in Ramallah. Kerry also visited Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdulaziz, to brief them on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

When speaking to Palestinian radio, the Palestinian Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to condemn the Israeli raids against the Gaza Strip, the latest of which took place on Thursday and left three Palestinians wounded. Al-Maliki remarked that, "Israel seeks to inflame [Gaza] in an attempt to ease US pressure against it during the negotiations."

After three years of deadlock due to the Israeli government's intransigence, Israel and the Palestinians agreed in July 2013 to engage in secret negotiations under the auspices of the US with the aim of reaching a final peace agreement in the Middle East within nine months. The current talks are reportedly establishing a framework to address the major issues, namely the future borders, the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

SOURCE: Raialyoum

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