Hanan Ashrawi
Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi has denounced Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, calling it an attempt to “legalize racism.”

Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said Israel wants to "create a narrative that denies the Palestinian presence, rights, and continuity on the historic Palestinian lands," according to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency.

The Palestinian official also said that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would mean giving up the rights of Palestinians displaced in 1948.

According to Palestinian estimates, 760,000 Palestinians were forced into exile or driven out of their homes in 1948 and they, along with their descendants, number 4.8 million people today.

Ashrawi's remarks come the same day that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and or sign a peace deal that does not include east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The PA president made his remarks on Saturday during a visit by hundreds of Palestinian activists to his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would not sign an agreement unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Abbas, meanwhile, told supporters Saturday he would not negotiate beyond the original nine-month deadline set by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the U.S.-backed negotiations, to end in a final status deal.

After the deadline, which expires in May, Abbas said he would seek international recognition for a Palestinian state without an agreement.