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Abbas rejects Israeli Jewish state

The Palestinian president said that he is ready to face international pressure over a tough peace deal

Published: Updated:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there is “no way” he will recognize Israel as a Jewish state and accept a Palestinian capital in just a portion of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, rejecting what some Palestinians believe will be key parts of a forthcoming U.S. peace proposal, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

Abbas, who was speaking to youth activists of his Fatah party, in comments carried on Friday by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, said he had previously withstood international pressure when he sought U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine over Washington’s objections.

Abbas’ comments suggested the extent of the difference in stances between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after seven months of mediation efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The president suggested he would stand firm again – especially over the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Reaching the end

“They are pressing and saying, ‘No peace without the Jewish state,’“ he said, though not saying who applying the pressure. “There is no way. We will not accept.”

Netanyahu, meanwhile, gave interviews to Israeli TV stations, excerpts of which were broadcast Friday night.

“I am ready to proceed, I am ready to reach the end of the conflict, but it must be the end of the conflict,” Netanyahu said on Channel 10 TV.

“We won’t allow the establishment of a Palestinian state so that it will continue the conflict, so it needs to recognize the state of the Jews just like they are demanding from us that we recognize the state of the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu insisted Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty – such recognition being required as evidence that Palestinians are serious about peace.

Abbas has noted that the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized the state of Israel in 1993 and said this is sufficient.

Palestinians fear the demand is an Israel attempt to restrict possible return options of refugees and the rights of Israel’s large Arab minority.

Presenting the framework

Kerry is expected to present his ideas for the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal soon, but it remains unseen that he can get Abbas and Netanyahu to agree on a framework before by the April 29 deadline.

Abbas is set to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on March 17, as part of U.S. efforts to press both sides towards a peace process. Netanyahu met with Obama earlier this week.

The current round of talks began in late July, but was plagued from the start by disagreement between Abbas and Netanyahu on the ground rules. The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967, and said talks about that state should use the 1967 lines as a starting point, a position backed by the U.S. but rejected by Netanyahu.

(With the Associated Press)