Netanyahu: Abbas' Refusal to Recognize Israel as Jewish State Is 'Absurd'

PM urges those states who have 'pressured Israel' to similarly pressure the Palestinians, so that they understand the consequences of failed negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that it is "absurd" to expect a peace deal with the Palestinians without the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Speaking at a meeting of his Likud party, Netanyahu responded to remarks that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made in the New York Times, in which he reiterated his objection to recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, saying, “This is out of the question."

Abbas argued that neither Jordan nor Egypt had been asked to do the same when they signed peace accords with Israel.

"The Palestinian Authority president was quoted as saying he is unwilling to recognize a Jewish state, when he knows that there won’t be an agreement without recognition of a [Jewish] national homeland," Netanyahu told fellow Likud members.

Netanyahu said it is "absurd" to think that there would be an agreement in which "we recognize a national homeland for the Palestinian people and they won't recognize a Jewish state."

The prime minister urged the international players he said have "pressured Israel" to apply similar pressure on the Palestinian leadership so it understands "what the consequences will be for the Palestinians if there is no agreement."

Netanyahu went on to reiterate, "No pressure will lead me to forgo the vital interests of the state of Israel – first and foremost the security of Israel's citizens."

Abbas, in the New York Times interview published Sunday, also called for an American-led NATO presence in a future Palestinian state.

The NATO mission Abbas said he proposed in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would last indefinitely and include troop patrols throughout the West Bank and Gaza, at all checkpoints and within Jerusalem, according to the Times.

Abbas said Israeli military presence and settlements in the West Bank could be gradually removed for up to five years after a peace agreement is signed – a departure from the three years he had previously proposed.

Under Abbas' plan, which the Times reported on six months into the current round of peace negotiations, Palestine would not have an army, only a police force.

Reuters / AP