Abbas Opposes ‘Even Holding Discussion’ on Recognizing Israel

Palestinian leader hardens position as Kerry deadline nears

Mahmoud Abbas / AP


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that Palestinians "oppose…even holding a discussion" on recognizing Israel as a Jewish state in a speech Tuesday to the Arab League in Kuwait.

The remarks, translated by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, suggest that Secretary of State John Kerry's year-long diplomatic offensive may reach an impasse in the coming weeks as he seeks Israeli and Palestinian approval of a framework agreement for future peace talks.

Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been a longstanding Israeli requirement for a peace deal and has emerged in recent months as the major obstacle to Kerry's peacemaking effort.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference earlier this month that "just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state." In doing so, Netanyahu said, Abbas "would be telling Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, or amputating parts of the Negev and the Galilee. In recognizing the Jewish state, you would finally make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict."

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