The future independent Palestinian state will not include a Jewish minority, a top Palestinian official told USA Today on Wednesday, adding that it was in the best interest of both peoples to "be separated."
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Maen Areikat, PLO Ambassador to the United States, made the comment just as the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, was preparing to offer up Palestinian statehood to a vote in the United Nations General Assembly later this month.
Answering a question about the legal status of a Jewish minority in the future state, Areikat apprently rejected the issue, saying: "I believe, I still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated," adding "I think we can contemplate these issues in the future."
"After the experience of the last 44 years, of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interest that the two peoples should be separated," Areikat added.
Former U.S. National Security Council official Elliot Abrams responded to the Palestinian official's comment, saying to USA Today that the Palestinian demand was "a despicable form of anti-Semitism," adding: "No civilized country would act this way."
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had been openly opposing the planned Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, arguing that a unilateral recognition of Palestinian independence would severely injure attempts at a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Obama indicated that Washington did not feel "think that it would actually lead to the outcome that we want, which is a two-state solution."
Last week, the State Department said the U.S. would veto a resolution for Palestinian statehood in the council, but Obama had yet to comment directly on the matter.
"What we've said is that going to the UN is a distraction, does not solve the problem," he said. "This issue is only going to be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians agreeing to something."