A week after the talks in Washington, a senior negotiator of Palestinian Authority (PA) says it will not recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”
Acting PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held direct talks on Sept. 2, after a stalemate of nearly two years.
The talks broke off at the turn of 2009, when Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians.
Nabil Shaath said on Wednesday that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would “directly threaten Palestinian Muslims as well as Christians” and prevent the right of Palestinian refugees from “returning to their homeland.”
The Palestinian negotiating team has turned down Israel’s request to even discuss the issue in the upcoming round of talks scheduled for next week, he told reporters in Ramallah.
Shaath said Netanyahu planned to raise the issue (recognition of Israel as a Jewish state) at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where talks are set to resume in mid-August, "but we flatly rejected this demand.”
Earlier this week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state is worrying.
"If the international community defines Israel as a Jewish state — such a decision should be approved by the UN," Aboul Gheit said.
Shaath said any deal struck with Israel will be put to referendum for all Palestinians to decide on.