Tags: Israel | Middle East | palestinians | israel

Abbas: Palestinians Will Never Recognize Israel as 'Jewish State'

By    |   Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 06:46 AM

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians will never recognize Israel as the "Jewish state," president Mahmud Abbas said Saturday, as his leadership convened to chart a course of action after Israel halted peace talks.

“In 1993 we recognized Israel," Abbas told members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Council, adding that the Palestinians should not be forced to go a step further and recognize Israel's religious identity.

Israel had made recognition of it as a "Jewish state" a key demand in peace talks, which it withdrew from after Abbas's PLO on Wednesday signed a reconciliation deal with the Islamist Hamas movement, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

The council had called the meeting over the crisis in negotiations, but will also discuss the deal struck Wednesday between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, a key PLO faction.

Israel suspended the peace talks over the deal, saying it would have no dealings with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, which is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Abbas also said on Saturday he was still ready to extend stalled peace talks with Israel, as long as it met his long-standing demands to free prisoners and halt building on occupied land.

"How can we restart the talks? There's no obstacle to us restarting the talks, but the 30 prisoners need to be released," Abbas told the meeting.
 
"On the table we will present our map, for 3 months we'll discuss our map. In that period, until the map is agreed upon, all settlement activity must cease completely," he told the officials, who were gathered for a two-day conference to assess the Palestinian strategy to achieve statehood.

Israel and the United States had been hoping to extend the faltering peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline, but the efforts hit a wall last month when Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinians retaliated by applying to adhere to 15 international treaties and then Abbas, who also heads the PLO and Fatah, listed conditions for extending the talks beyond the deadline.

Abbas said he would agree to an extension if Israel freezes settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, frees the prisoners and begins discussions on the future borders of a promised Palestinian state.

Israel dismissed the conditions.

In the unity deal penned this week, the rival Palestinian factions agreed to bury their differences and establish a "national consensus" government under Abbas within weeks.

The move infuriated Israel, which said it would "not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terror organization that calls for the destruction of Israel".

Israel also vowed unspecified "measures" in response.

On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said U.S. efforts to broker a peace deal had not failed, but were currently in a "holding period" as Palestinians and Israelis decide their next move.

She noted Abbas had insisted that any government formed with Hamas backing would "represent his policies, and that includes recognition of Israel, commitment to non-violence, adherence to prior agreements and commitment to peaceful negotiations toward a two-state solution."

Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah told Abbas on Friday that he would resign if the president deemed it necessary for the formation of the new unity government, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

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Palestinians will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state, president Mahmud Abbas said Saturday, as his leadership convened to chart a course of action after Israel halted peace talks. "In 1993 we recognized Israel, Abbas told members of the Palestine...
palestinians, israel
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2014-46-26
Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 06:46 AM
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