Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
said Friday he would not recognize Israel
as a Jewish state, adding that he was also opposed to population exchanges as part of any permanent peace agreement.
During a meeting with heads of the Hadash
party in Ramallah, Abbas said, "Had we given up on our principles, we would have signed an agreement years ago."
According to those who took part in the hour-long meeting, the Palestinian president said the direct talks with Benjamin Netanyahu have not progressed and that the Israeli prime minister is insisting on the continuation of construction in the West Bank's Jewish settlements. Abbas reiterated that he would not agree to resume negotiations as long as settlement construction continues.
Abbas noted that the negotiations with Israel during former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's
term did progress, and mentioned the Arab initiative as a key element of the peace process. "We won't budge from the Palestinian principles with regards to a final agreement," he said.
During the meeting, Abbas said that in 1993, following the Oslo accords, the Palestinians recognized the State of Israel. "We want Israel to recognize the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders," the Palestinian leader told the Hadash members.
Yasser Abed Rabo, secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, as well as other PLO officials, also attended the meeting. He spoke of the "unacceptable demand" to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, adding that this demand was aimed at thwarting the implementation of the "right" of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
Hadash chairman Mohammad Barakeh told Ynet the meeting was held "in the shadow of racist laws, such as the amendment
to the Citizenship Act and the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as well as the demand for population exchanges.
"We refuse to accept these developments and we will fight them," the Arab Knesset member said.