Shaath denies making 'Jewish state' offer
Published Tuesday 18/03/2014 (updated) 20/03/2014 22:27
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – A top member of Fatah on Tuesday denied reports by Israeli media that he said the Palestinian Authority would consider recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Central Committee member Nabil Shaath was quoted by official radio as saying that “the Palestinian leadership would consider recognizing Israel as a Jewish state after negotiations come to an end and after all controversial issues are solved.”
In response, Shaath told Ma’an that his quotes were misinterpreted.
“There was discussion Monday with a delegation of Harvard University students about the Palestinian attitude toward recognition of Israel as a Jewish state,” Shaath said.
He added that he told Harvard students that the Palestinians remained adamant to refuse even to discuss this issue because such recognition means “justifying the forcible occupation of Palestine.”
In addition, Shaath says he told the students that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would “endanger” the Palestinian residents of Israel who make up 21 percent of the population.
It will also “endanger” the right of return of Palestinian refugees, he said.
During the discussion, a Jewish student asked whether the Palestinians would recognize Israel as a Jewish state if Israel agreed to recognize a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital as well as the right of return and all Palestinian rights.
Shaath answered that “if Israel recognizes and puts into effect all our rights, we will discuss your suggestion but our answer will be negative because we oppose a Jewish state just as we oppose Palestine as a state for Muslims or Christians only.”
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out any deal with the PLO unless they recognize Israel as a Jewish state and give up the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
And he said Israel and the Palestinians were getting further away from reaching a peace deal.
"They (Palestinians) say they will never recognize a Jewish state and that they will never give up on the right of return," Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast on Israeli public radio.
"I want to make clear that I will not accept an agreement that does not cancel the (refugees') right of return and which does not include Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state," he said in an address to the ruling right-wing Likud-Beitenu faction.
"These are basic conditions, which are justified and vital to the security of Israel."