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After the meeting between American envoy George Mitchell and Benjamin Netanyahu last Thursday, the prime minister's spokesmen said Netanyahu had demanded Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Yesterday his bureau said this was not a precondition, but an assessment. Without such recognition progress in talks would be difficult. But won't the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the unification of Jerusalem block progress, among other sensitive issues?

Netanyahu knows that the chances of a Palestinian leader conceding that Israel is the state of the Jewish people are zero. He also knows that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a winning card at home even for the Zionist left.

But his statement made no impression on Mitchell. Netanyahu has not yet agreed to the concept of a two-state solution. A cool breeze seems to be blowing from Washington with the invitation of Jordan's King Abdullah as the first Middle Eastern guest to the White House. Netanyahu understands that he is in no position to present Obama with any conditions.