US Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday that Israelis are making a mistake by insisting that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state, Israel's Haaretz newspaper has reported.
The newspaper said the Kerry's remarks reveal the differences of opinion between Israel and the US that are expected to cause tensions between the two parties.
"I think it's a mistake for some people to be, you know, raising it again and again as the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace, and we've obviously made that clear" Kerry said.
Kerry's remarks come ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House next week.
Abbas has said recently that he will not agree to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and therefore Kerry's statements are seen as a way to resolve the tensions over the mounting difficulties that prevent establishing a "framework agreement" for both sides.
Kerry was quoted as saying that "the Jewish state issue has been solved in UN Resolution 181 of 1947, which mentions the 'Jewish state' 44 times." Kerry also suggested that late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat agreed in 1988 and again in 2004 that he recognises Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Haaretz noted that Kerry's statement reflects what has been said behind the scenes by US officials who believe that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had gone too far when he announced publicly his demand for Israel to be recognised as a Jewish state, making it a non-negotiable issue in what are supposed to be negotiations.
The paper quoted a source in the White House as saying that "whenever Netanyahu makes this a central issue, it becomes more difficult for Abbas to accept this demand."
The newspaper also recalled Kerry's contradictory statement in December of last year, when he himself remarked that, "we have to look for a peace that recognises Israel as a Jewish state." The paper cited sources in New York as saying that the heads of the Jewish organisations in the US have already endorsed Netanyahu's opinion and are willing to pressure the US administration once they receive the signal from Israel.