Peres: Palestinian Recognition of Jewish State 'Unnecessary'

As Netanyahu and Peres head to Davos, where a day will be dedicated to discussing Mideast peace, it turns out the two leaders are not on same page.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres head for the World Economic Forum in Davos, where an entire day will be dedicated to a discussion of Israeli-Palestinian peace, it has become apparent that the two Israeli leaders are not on the same page when it comes to the importance of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu has made it clear that he considers such recognition a "basic demand" for achieving peace in the region.

But Peres has said in private conversations with government officials in recent weeks that Netanyahu's insistence on recognition of a Jewish state is "unnecessary," Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

That doesn't mean Peres will be talking about the disagreement at Davos, though.

Although Peres has expressed his fear that Israel would "cease to exist as a Jewish state" without serious peace talks with the Palestinians, he has also rejected the advice of friends and political figures to come out openly against Netanyahu's positions. "I'm not the head of the opposition, I'm the president," he has said.

In June 2011, Netanyahu implored Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

"I stood before my people and said I would accept a Palestinian state," Netanyahu told a Jewish Agency Board of Trustees meeting in Jerusalem. Directly addressing Abbas, he urged: "Just say these words: 'I accept a Jewish state.' It is a basic demand for peace."

Netanyahu reiterated his position last week, when he praised Canada for standing with Israel after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper became the first leader of his country to address the Knesset.

“Canada supports Israel fundamentally because it is right to do so," Harper said. “We stand up for a free and democratic Jewish state.”

After the speech, Netanyahu lauded Canada for supporting a real peace that he said has “at its roots the Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish national state.”