For my story yesterday on the latest crisis in the talks, I spoke to Michael Oren, who until last September was the Israeli ambassador to Washington, and I asked him about why the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” has become so prominent in the talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had always said that such recognition must be in a final deal, but he also said it was not a precondition to talks. Yet in recent weeks it seemed to have become a very present demand, although the sides had by no means arrived at a final deal.
Oren said that he had noticed a shift in Israel’s approach to the issue.
“It’s a departure from the policy that I represented,” he told me. “The policy I represented was that the ‘Jewish state’ issue would be at the conclusion of the process.”