Hanan Ashwari has for decades been the most recognizable face of the Palestinian government in the American media. As was clear this morning, she is also the face of Palestinian rejectionism of the very basis of the existence of the State of Israel.

Ashwari appeared on CNN after David Keyes, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said that the real barrier to peace is Palestinian rejection of Israel as a Jewish state. Ashwari expressed that rejection in clear terms: “we cannot a accept religion for any state.” Emphasizing her point, she twice mockingly described Israel as wanting Palestinians “to become Zionists suddenly.”

Note: Ashwari tries to distract by claiming the Palestinians reject a religion for any state, be it Jewish, Muslim or Christian. But the Palestinians of course deal without qualms with many explicitly Muslim states, such as Saudi Arabia, and with Christian ones such as the UK, where the head of state, the Queen, is also the head of the Church of England.

POPPY HARLOW: David Keyes from the Israeli government, spokesperson for Benjamin Netanyahu, just came on the program earlier and spoke with Don [Lemon] about — about where we go, frankly from here, really pointing his finger at you and the Palestinians. I want your reaction to this. Listen.

DAVID KEYES: Every time they were offered, they said no. And the reason is simple, because the conflict is not about the creation of a Palestinian state, it’s about the existence of a Jewish state. And I can quote Palestinian ministers saying precisely that, as well, and I can, you know, tick down the list from Nabil Schaath who said we will never accept two states for two peoples, to President Abbas who said we will never accept a Jewish state, to Farouk Kaddoumi, to Abbas Zaki, to, on and on down the list.

HARLOW: Your response to that. What is the Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution at this point in time?

HANAN ASHWARI: I think instead of dealing with circumlocution and attempts at deception let’s look at the facts. We have recognized the State of Israel in 1993

HARLOW: But not as a Jewish state, doctor. Not as a Jewish state, and you know that it is conditional, the Netanyahu government is saying that is a part of —

ASHWARI: We’ve already answered that. Now, that’s a new precondition. Before the condition was that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel and have to recognize Israel’s right to exist and so on. Now when they destroy the peace process and all the talks they introduce another precondition. Is that we have all to become Zionists suddenly and we have to accept the idea of the Jewish state when we are desperately struggling to have, as I said the other day, an inclusive, democratic, tolerant Palestinian state.

We cannot accept a religion for any state. We cannot talk about Jewish states or Islamic states or Christian states. Otherwise, you will end up having to deal with the Islamic state. We personally believe that there is no license to discriminate against any group, any ethnicity, any religion or to give them any additional value because of their ethnicity and religion. So if you want equality, and if you want a state to be an equal among other states, then you recognize the democratic state, and that should be enough. We recognize —

HARLOW: Doctor —

ASHWARI: If they want us to take that back, we will. But we’re not going to take it back just because they want us to become Zionists suddenly.


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