Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas
said on Monday that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank's political capital of Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it and I say so publicly."
He said it's not his job to define the state of Israel. "Name yourself, it's not my business," He said. "All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don't accept."
Abbas said that the topic was "extensively discussed" and rejected by the Palestinians during the November 2007 international conference in Annapolis, Maryland during which the two sides relaunched their negotiations.
Netanyahu has demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel
as a Jewish state as part of an eventual peace deal.
Such a move would amount to an effective renunciation of the right of return of refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel was created, one of the most cherished and visceral principles to the Palestinians.
Abbas also said a complete construction freeze is a prerequisite for resuming talks. Netanyahu supports settlement construction and has not committed to the idea of Palestinian statehood.
In his speech, Abbas said he would not give in to possible Israeli or international pressure on the Palestinians to resume negotiations even if settlement construction continues.
"For sure, we won't submit to pressures. For example, if they say 'come and then we'll see, come.' No, we won't accept. Regarding the peace talks, this is our position, even if someone, if anyone in the world says 'you're wrong,"' he said.
AFP and The Associated Press contributed to this report