Epicenter Update: 1) Abbas at White House rejects Israel as “Jewish State.” 2) Kerry says Israel wrong to insist on “Jewish state” recognition.” 3) Iraqi oil production surges to highest level in 30 years.

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with President Obama today at the White House.

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with President Obama today at the White House.

(Washington, D.C.) — Here’s a snapshot of some of the most important developments in the epicenter in recent days.

SECRETARY KERRY SAYS ISRAEL WRONG TO INSIST THE PALESTINIANS RECOGNIZE ISRAEL AS A “JEWISH STATE” — “In his appearance before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on March 13, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry, convener, main proponent, and mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process, found it necessary to make a surprisingly one-sided comment and prejudgment on one of the central and most delicate issues on the negotiating table – Israel’s basic and principled requirement of recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People,” notes Israeli Ambassador Alan Baker, who helped craft the Olso Accords, in an analysis for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “Kerry opined that he views Israel’s position ‘as a mistake,’ considering that the ‘Jewish State’ issue was ‘sufficiently addressed by UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which recommended the establishment of independent Arab and Jewish states in Palestine.’ He said there are ‘more than 30–40 mentions of a ‘Jewish state’ in the resolution, and added that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ‘confirmed that he agreed it [Israel] would be a Jewish state’ in 1988 and in 2004. It would appear that once again, as with previous one-sided and pre-judgmental statements, Secretary Kerry has either been ill-advised or is deliberately engaged in an effort to neutralize the ‘Jewish State’ issue in the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He is doing so by attempting to determine that the question of Palestinian support for a Jewish state was already resolved by PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 1988, and is therefore redundant and unnecessary…..”

PALESTINIAN LEADER ABBAS AT WHITE HOUSE AGAIN REJECTS ISRAEL AS “JEWISH STATE” — “U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he would have to make tough political decisions and take ‘risks’ for peace, as would Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” reported the Times of Israel. “Abbas, for his part, reiterated his rejection of Israel’s demand that its status as a Jewish state be enshrined in a future peace accord, asserting that previous Palestinian recognition of Israel was sufficient….Speaking to Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said that ‘since 1988 and into 1993, we have been extending our hands to our Israeli neighbors so that we can reach a fair and lasting peace to this problem. Since 1988, we have recognized international legitimacy resolutions and this was a very courageous step on the part of the Palestinian leadership. And in 1993, we recognized the State of Israel.'”

IRAQI OIL PRODUCTION SURGES TO HIGHEST LEVEL IN 30 YEARS — “Iraq’s oil production surged to its highest level in over 30 years last month, surprising skeptics of the country’s efforts to restore its oil industry after decades of war and neglect,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “In its monthly oil report published Friday, the International Energy Agency said Iraq’s oil output jumped by half a million barrels a day in February to average 3.6 million barrels a day. The country hasn’t pumped that much oil since 1979, when Saddam Hussein rose to power. The Iraqi output surge came as the IEA also predicted oil supply from the U.S. and Canada would continue its “relentless” increase this year, easing concerns that higher global demand and geopolitical issues caused by the crisis in Ukraine could push oil prices upward….Iraq’s oil minister said in December the country would target oil production of 4.1 million barrels a day this year. New fields coming on stream are expected to add 500,000 barrels a day of output in the next few months. Last month’s surprise jump in oil production came as a major bottleneck at Iraq’s southern export terminal Basra was finally removed. Shipments of oil from the country rose to 2.8 million barrels a day in February, up by 600,000 barrels a day compared with a year ago.”

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