Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that under no circumstances would the PA sign an agreement with Israel which required the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or a land swap.
"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 in Ramallah with Knesset members from the left-wing party Hadash.
Abbas clarified that the PA would exhibit flexibility regarding the nature of the negotiations, but added that they would not negotiate on issues the Palestinian people consider principal matters.
"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago," Abbas said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Monday to halt settlement construction if the Palestinians were to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but the Palestinian leadership was prompt to reject the proposal.
"If the Palestinian leadership will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, I will be ready to convene my government and request a further suspension," Netanyahu said while speaking at the opening of the third session of the 18th Knesset.
"Just as the Palestinians expect us to recognize their state, we expect reciprocal treatment," said Netanyahu.
"This is not a condition but a trust-building step, which would create wide-ranging trust among the Israeli people, who have lost trust in the Palestinian will for peace over the last 10 years."
Hadash Chairman Mohammed Barakeh, who participated in the meeting with Abbas, said that the timing of the meeting was not coincidental and was purposely set up in light of the recent discussions regarding Netanyahu's offer.
"We came to Abu Mazen [Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority officials in order to hear a clear and official stance regarding the stalled negotiations, and we made it clear that we [Israeli Arabs] would not be a herd of sheep during the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Barakeh said
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