Abbas: No recognition of Israel as Jewish state. Palestinian leader to visit White House on March 17.

abbas-jerusalempicture(Washington, D.C.) — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House on March 17th. Yet complicating the administration’s efforts to get a peace deal are enormously wide gaps between Abbas and Netanyahu on core issues.

“Palestinian Authority 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, rebuffing what Palestinians fear will be key elements of a US peace proposal,” reports the Times of Israel. “s comments signaled that the gaps between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remain wide after seven months of mediation efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry.”

Excerpts:

  • Speaking to youth activists of his Fatah party, he suggested he would stand firm again, particularly over the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
  • “They are pressing and saying, ‘no peace without the Jewish state,’” he said, though not spelling out who is applying the pressure. “There is no way. We will not accept.”
  • Netanyahu has said such recognition is required as proof that the Palestinians are serious about a final end to the conflict. 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 Israeli attempt to restrict possible return options of Palestinian refugees and the rights of Israel’s large Arab minority. Israeli leaders have openly said the demand is partly to counter Palestinian demand for the return of millions of descendants of refugees, but have rejected the connection to Israel’s Arab citizens.
  • Kerry is expected to present his ideas for the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal soon, but it appears increasingly unlikely he can get Abbas and Netanyahu to accept such a framework by an April 29 deadline.
  • Abbas is meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on March 17, as part of US efforts to press both sides. Netanyahu met with Obama earlier this week.

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