Abbas says Israel not 'Jewish state'
The Palestinian Authority has stressed that it will not accept a peace deal with Israel at the cost of recognizing it as a Jewish homeland, Press TV reported.
Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that under no circumstances would the PA sign an agreement with Israel which requires a land swap or the recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland.
"The PA recognized Israel's existence in 1993, and now Israel needs to recognize the Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders," Abbas said during a meeting with Knesset (Israeli Parliament) members from the left-wing party of Hadash in Ramallah.
"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago," Abbas continued.
Abbas made the remarks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if Palestinians recognize Israel as "a Jewish state."
The offer angered Palestinian officials.
Calling Netanyahu's offer an "unacceptable demand," Yasser Abed Rabo, secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said that this demand aimed at thwarting the implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
The new round of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started in Washington in September after a 20-month hiatus. But the talks reached a deadlock after Israel refused to meet the PA's demand for extending the partial settlement freeze in the West Bank and resumed its illegal construction work hours after the expiry of the 10-month partial moratorium.
The PA had repeatedly threatened to leave the US-sponsored direct talks with Tel Aviv if Israel resumes settlement construction.
Palestinians believe that the expansion of Jewish settlements on their occupied lands will make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Arab League has backed Abbas' decision to suspend talks and has given the US one month to end the impasse.