THE WORLDPOST
03/20/2014 05:58 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Debate Over Israel's 'Jewish State' Recognition

A resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long sought after ideal, but with current peace talks set to conclude April 29, both sides remain skeptical that progress will be made.

In a recent Washington D.C. speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel to be recognized as an independent Jewish State, a request that has sparked controversy. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out against Netanyahu's statement, claiming that Israel already received such recognition in 1947 when it was originally established, and was also recognized as a Jewish state by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1988, and again in 1993.

HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin welcomed Israeli columnist Gideon Levy and former Israeli Ambassador and President of the Israel Institute Itamar Rabinovich to further frame this discussion.

Ambassador Rabinovich refuted Kerry's assertion: "If he says that it was resolved then why can't President Abbas just say it once again?"

"By refusing to say it now, President Abbas of course raises the suspicion in Israel that it has not been resolved," he continued.

Rabinovich clarified that "Jewish" refers to both a religious group, as well as an ethnic group, and the Jewish people should be entitled to their own nation state, like the Palestinians.

"Israel is the nation home of the Jewish people, there is a twenty percent Arab minority who would be a cultural minority in the state of Israel," Rabinovich said. "In the United States it's difficult to understand because America is a civic nation."

Levy, on the other hand, believes the request for a Jewish state is too isolationist and is moving in a dangerous direction for the Israeli people.

"The nature of Israel will be determined by its regime, by its society, by its values, by its majorities, but not by declarations of being a pure ethnic country," said Levy. He feels the attitude of the Israeli people is moving towards self-ghettoization.

"First we check the blood of everyone and we accept only Jews and then we put them behind fences, doing anything possible not to be accepted to the Middle East," said Levy. "Those are very sick syndromes, and I'm very very worried of the future of Israel, even with peace or even without it."

Rabinovich furthered his push for a two-sided resolution. "This is not a one-sided conflict. It's very important for both sides to emerge out of the blame game and try to focus on coming to an agreement because I believe fundamentally on both sides, the bulk of the population is interested in resolution.

To hear more from Gideon Levy, watch below:

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