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Netanyahu demands Palestinians recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'
Published Wednesday 05/03/2014 (updated) 06/03/2014 20:38
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel
Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington on
March 4, 2014 (AFP Nicholas Kamm)
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday directly urged Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" and to "abandon the fantasy" of "flooding" Israel with refugees.

But his remarks sparked a furious reaction from the Palestinians who denounced his demand and said it had effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the US-led peace talks.

The latest spat threw a harsh spotlight on the yawning divide between the two sides, and the task faced by US Secretary of State John Kerry who is trying to get them to agree a framework for extending direct peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

Addressing delegates at the annual policy conference of AIPAC, Netanyahu said he was prepared to make an "historic peace," but not without a Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a "Jewish state."

"It's time the Palestinians stopped denying history," he said, returning to a major point of disagreement in peace talks, which have struggled to make headway in the last seven months.

"President Abbas: recognize the Jewish state and in doing so, you would be telling your people ... to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees," he said.

Netanyahu insists that only when the Palestinians acknowledge Israel as a "Jewish state" will the conflict be finally over.

For the Palestinians, the issue is intimately entwined with the fate of their refugees who were forced out of their homes or fled in 1948 when Israel became a state. They see Netanyahu's demand as a way to sidestep a negotiated solution to the refugee question.

Netanyahu also alluded to Israel's demand to retain a military presence along the Jordan Valley, which runs down the eastern flank of the West Bank, in any future deal saying he would not cede security to foreign peacekeepers.

"If we reach an agreement with the Palestinians ... that peace will most certainly come under constant attack" by groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Islamist Hamas movement which heads the government in Gaza, and extremists from al-Qaeda.

"Experience has shown that foreign peace-keeping forces, keep the peace only when there is peace, but when subjected to repeated attacks, those forces eventually go home. ... The only force that can be relied on to defend the peace ... (is) the Israeli army," he said.

His words sparked an immediate backlash from Ramallah.

Top Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told AFP that Netanyahu's demand for such recognition, and his insistence on keeping Israeli troops deployed in a future Palestinian state were "totally rejected."

Netanyahu's speech was tantamount to "an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations," Shaath said.

Israel has repeatedly insisted there will be no peace deal without addressing the issue of recognition and a clause relating to this has been inserted into Kerry's as-yet-unpublished framework proposal.

But the Palestinians have refused to back down, rejecting Kerry's inclusion of the clause in the framework as "unacceptable."

Palestinian negotiators arrived in Washington late on Monday ahead for further talks ahead of a visit by president Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on March 17.

US and Israeli officials were tight-lipped about the substance of Monday's meeting, with White House spokesman Jay Carney refusing to say whether or not Netanyahu had agreed to accept the US framework.

"We continue to work very closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on a framework for negotiations," he said.

Netanyahu also made a rare reference to the opportunities a peace deal would open up, including "the possibility of establishing formal ties with between Israel and leading countries of the Arab world.

"Peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships," he said in positive remarks more commonly heard from reputed moderates like Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"The combination of Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship could catapult the entire region forward. I believe together we could solve the region's water and energy problems."

He also had strong words for the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel over its activities in the occupied territories.

"The BDS movement is not about legitimate criticism, it's about making Israel illegitimate," he said. "That movement will fail."

But BDS spokeswoman Rafeef Ziadah brushed off Netanyahu's words as a "desperate attack," noting that governments were beginning "to take action to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law."
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1 ) Mark of Lewiston / USA
05/03/2014 10:15
Netanyahu promised Palestinians and the Arab world can go marching onto the shining path of the radiant future if Palestinians give up any hope of independence or sovereignty and accept decades or generations more occupation to satisfy Israel's "security" needs. That is how he defined "historic peace." Of course like almost all politicians, he made up facts to suit his speech needs.

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
05/03/2014 10:16
If Palestine refuses a peace treaty stay tuned for the real fun: "to take action to hold Palestine accountable for its violations of international law." Airplane hijackings. Blowing airplanes out of the sky. Suicide bombings. Car bombings. Shootings, knifings. Arresting, beating and imprisoning reporters. Dishonour killing of women. Using children as soldiers. All the above war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Palestine. Almost time to send Palestinian leaders to jail for life.

3 ) wayne / NZ
05/03/2014 10:39
Well done Ben, the more you talk like that the better, only you will convince the PLO to go to the ICC, and you Benny boy, you will be the first in the dock, and i think attempted murder for just a start is life in jail, Once that starts then there will be a chance of peace so Ben ... keep it up, its good to see how you think and be good to see the back of you

4 ) Nad / UK
05/03/2014 11:07
If this Brian Cohen is a real person and not computer generated toad, then he lives on an entirely different planet. He has listed false atrocities supposed to have been carred out by the oppressed Palestenians. He should look at the atrocities and genocides carried out by the zionist entity which outweigh a few stone throwing Palestinians children which kills nobody. People such as B Cohen are sick and dangerous.

5 ) Bemused / New Zealand
05/03/2014 11:18
It is time Israel stopped denying international law, which includes the RIGHT of return. Does he need it tattooed on the inside of his eyelids, perhaps? Not option, not negotiable item, but RIGHT OF RETURN, as guaranteed to ALL refugees, not just Palestinians.

6 ) Bael / Great Canaan Land
05/03/2014 12:11
over than 6 million refugees are not allowed to get back their homes. Dear.BiBi, you prove to the world that the so called "Israel" is illegitimate and it's an occupation no more. plz, it's time for you to "stop denying history".

7 ) @ Brian-2 / USA
05/03/2014 14:04
- Palestine Will Certainly "refuse a peace treaty", on Israel's terms
(Jewish recognition, No 1967, No Jerusalem, and No return), and
- In doing so, it will continue to stagnate, as a divided authority, but
- "Action to hold Palestine accountable for its violations" will be just as ineffective internationally, as Palestine's actions to hold Israel accountable !!!

8 ) Rami / Palestine
05/03/2014 14:09
#2 Go home already. You really have nothing to say do you? Your "most moral army in the world" liquified human beings with white phosphorous. Do you even comprehend what that means?? It used Hellfire missiles against an unarmed civilian population, shot unarmed protestors for exercising their RIGHT to protest, including blasting activists in the face with M72 Law missiles and Tear Gas Canisters. Who the hell do you think you are? Mother Theresa?

9 ) Karel / The Netherlands
05/03/2014 15:32
Brian, did Israel prosecute and sentence its terrorists that blew up hotels, carried out assasinations (including of a United Nations mediator) and committed the most vile war crimes? No, it made members of parliament and Prime Ministers out of them. See Begin, Shafir, Sharon, etc. FAIL

10 ) Mel / USA
05/03/2014 15:59
The only thing to remember about despots like this,& those in admins that patron them,is that they're anathema to "Life,Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness". These pond-scum persecute,pogrom,torture,murder,gas,starve MILLIONS of people just because of Zionism's "Uber Alles","fantasy"(delusion).These'Himmlers'put humans(incld.kids)on"diets"((attrition/war crimes)"to get a lot thinner but won't die"(D.Weissglass).The Right of Return tide will happen,Bibi,like a TSUNAMI! No fantasy! Just fact!

11 ) Mel / USA
05/03/2014 17:13
p.s. I'm sure Palestinian people will recognize Israel as a "Jewish State"as LONG as Israel ends its occupation/blockade & military attacks & TOTALLY RETREATS BACK behind the original partition line,takes the apartheid wall with it,hands over all illegal colonies on pluralistic Palestinian land,COMPLIES with international laws & UN Resol 242:ROR,E/J,natural resources &/or compensation for 67yrs of colonial LOOTING/MURDER.Then Palestine is free to be a contiguous PALESTINE.Amen!

12 ) betz55 / USA
05/03/2014 17:41
Oh please! And what other country in the world has had to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish state'? Answer - NONE. So give it up Netty, not going to happen. All you are doing is setting the stage for further delegitmization.

13 ) Palestine / Ramallah
05/03/2014 18:22
Abbas,can.but.not.me

14 ) Maureen / Australia
05/03/2014 20:06
What history is Netanyahu talking about - the fact that Zionist world manipulators stole Palestine?

15 ) Jewish / State
05/03/2014 20:07
All UN resolution starting from 1947 resolution to partition British Mandate into two states - Jewish, called Israel and Arab, called Palestine - were mentioning Jewish state of Israel and Arab state of Palestine. Rejecting Jewish state of Israel now by Abbas and PA means only one thing - that Palestinian state would never materialize, while Jewish state of Israel exists for last 67 years and doing very well.

16 ) More / Talk
05/03/2014 20:12
It is not like Netanyahu declared end of talks. No - it is Abbas and Palestinians telling us that Netanyahu declared end of talks. Of, cause, no one trust palestinians and there is no 1 milligram of truth in their words. And actually palestinians do not need to tell us what Netanyahu is talking about - people can listen to Netanyahu themselves and make their opinion. Palestinians should tell people what they are doing to advance peace and settle conflict.

17 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
06/03/2014 20:45
The Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988 "was the first official Palestinian recognition of the existence of a Jewish state," as Rashid Khalidi writes in his book "The Iron Cage". Why isn't that enough ?

18 ) Colin Wright / USA
08/03/2014 21:21
To Carol #17: 'Why isn't that enough ?' It's not enough because nothing will ever be enough. Israel will just keep on dreaming up demands the Palestinians won't accept so that she can continue her project of seizing all Palestinian land and herding the Palestinians into walled and policed ghettos. Why do you ask?
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