Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday implored Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, calling it a "basic demand" for achieving peace in the region.
"I stood before my people and said I would accept a Palestinian state," Netanyahu told a Jewish Agency Board of Trustees meeting in Jerusalem, in remarks carried by Army Radio. "Now President Abbas must stand before his people and say, 'I accept a Jewish state'."
Netanyahu directly addressed Abbas in this plea, imploring the Palestinian president: "Just say these words – 'I accept a Jewish state'. It is a basic demand for peace."
The prime minister's comments came a day after Palestinian officials said that the Palestinian Authority had deplotyed delegations to make the rounds of nearly a dozen countries to try to drum up more support for their bid to have the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state.
Palestinian officials will visit Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries that have not yet endorsed the Palestinian plan for recognition, said Hana Amireh, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's decision-making Executive Committee.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said all Palestinian ambassadors would meet in Madrid in early July to discuss how to approach all-important European Union member states, whose support would be crucial to giving the plan diplomatic heft.
Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Palestinian ambassadors had been instructed not to be absent from their offices or take vacations "because of the importance of the coming period."
The statehood campaign was born out of the long deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the Palestinian conviction that Netanyahu's government is not serious about making peace.
On Sunday, the West Bank Palestinian leadership formally decided to seek UN recognition in September of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
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