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June 03, 2003

Israel Seeks Formal "Jewish" State Label

I had always thought of Israel as a Jewish state but I guess it is a formal declaration that is being sought in order, says this articlek to put up a barrier to the Right of Return for Palestinians
Israel is trying to convince President Bush and Arab leaders that attend this week's Middle East summit meetings to publicly unequivocally accept their nation as "a Jewish State."
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is seeking such recognition at Tuesday's summit of moderate Arab states and the American president in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt although Israel has turned town an offer to send its own delegation to the meeting, a well-placed official confirmed Sunday.

Israel's diplomatic efforts appear to be focused on U.S. officials who are helping prepare Bush's subsequent meeting Wednesday in Aqaba, Jordan, with Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordan's King Abdallah II expected to attend.

The plan for the Aqaba summit calls for separate meetings between Bush and Sharon, then Bush and Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen), and finally a joint press conference in which each side will read their own statement.

The U.S. is working separately with each side and appears to be keeping details of their statements from the other side. A senior Israeli official told reporters Sunday that the Israeli government does not know what is in the Palestinian draft.

Foreign Minister Shalom, who spoke to reporters at a joint press conference with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, said Israel was seeking a "clear statement by Bush of the need to preserve Israel as a Jewish state."