In fiery speech delivered in Ramallah yesterday, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said he does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also underscored his rejection of the new Israeli government’s demand for recognition.
A senior official in Mr. Abbas’ office said the PA president was trying to make the world aware of the deadlock with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau responded by saying there would be no progress in the negotiations unless the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel’s right to self-determination as a Jewish state.
“This is a fundamental demand. We won’t sweep the Palestinian refusal to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state beneath the carpet,” officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau said.
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The prior government refused to press the issue with the Palestinians during the 2007 Annapolis Conference, but the Prime Minister’s Bureau promises the Netanyahu government will not follow the same path.
“They want to be given a nation-state, but aren’t prepared to recognize our right to a Jewish state. If one wants to reach peace then ultimately one has to accept the basic legitimacy of the other side. They have to say these things to their people,” Mr. Netanyahu recently said on the subject.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “Recognition of Israel is a vital and necessary stage in the historic reconciliation.”
An Israel Government Minister and former Israeli Army commander in chief, Moshe Yaalon, and said that the Palestinians’ actions demonstrated their true intentions.
“They want in Judea and Samaria [The West Bank] a country that has been purged of Jews and in the rest of the land an Israeli state, for the time being, that is secular and democratic, with Arabs, which, at some point, in keeping with their perception, will become part of the greater Palestinian state,” Mr. Yaalon said. “That is the realization of the stages strategy, or the realization of the Hamas charter. The disagreement they have is about the route, not about the goal.”
Israeli Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, former chief of staff to PLO leader Yassir Arafat, said Mr. Abbas’ statements were logical: “The recognition does not include recognition of the political substance, but, rather, of its right to exist, its independence and borders.”
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com