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30 Nov, 2014 09:17

‘Palestine will not recognize Israel as Jewish state’ – Abbas after Israeli legal push

‘Palestine will not recognize Israel as Jewish state’ – Abbas after Israeli legal push

Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, President Mahmoud Abbas said at an emergency session of the Arab League, hot on the heels of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s approving the disputed bill to enshrine Israel’s status as such.

Speaking to leaders of the Arab world in Cairo, the Palestinian leader stated: “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.”

The statement reported by Israel’s Channel 10 followed warnings that if the United Nations fails to adopt a resolution that would recognize Palestinian statehood and make Israel cease building settlements on Palestinian land, the Palestinian Authority will go ahead with seeking membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), with the intention of prosecuting.

Now Abbas is threatening all security relations with Israel will be cut unless peace negotiations that collapsed in April are revived. The Arab foreign ministers in Cairo are behind him in seeking Israel’s withdrawal beyond the pre-1967 lines, as well as the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel has been refusing any negotiations lately on the grounds that Abbas will not disassociate himself from the Hamas militant group in a Palestinian unity government.

READ MORE: Netanyahu govt approves disputed bill making Israel nation-state of Jewish people

Calling it an “apartheid state,” Abbas, for his part, accused Israel of trying to set up a Jewish-only state, with things like Jewish-only buses, building settlements in the West Bank, as well as the aforementioned proposal for a Jewish state.

“Return to negotiations is possible if Israel agrees to a full freeze of settlement [construction], including Jerusalem, release of the fourth group of long-term prisoners, and setting a timetable for negotiations, which will begin with setting borders,” he said on Saturday.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.(Reuters / Jim Hollander)

In August, Palestine announced it would be asking the UN Security Council for a “timetable” for Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, warning that denying the request would end in them looking to put Israel on trial for the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians. In October, it proposed a timeline of November 2016.

READ MORE: Palestine wants UN vote on 2016 deadline for Israeli troop pullout

“It’s impossible for us to wait any longer, because Israel continues its aggression and expropriation of lands and setting facts on the ground by continuing to build settlements,” Abbas declared. “The government of Israel doesn’t want, for internal reasons, to define its borders and we can’t continue with this situation.”

The Palestinian leader is expected to launch an official UN petition in the near future, with no date given at this time, pending Arab League approval. According to Channel 10, Abbas will be seeking US Secretary of State John Kerry’s help in drafting the UNSC proposal.

“The situation in the [West] Bank is dangerous, and can’t continue,” Abbas said. “All signs point to [the fact that] the American mediation [of peace talks] failed with the end of the negotiations.”

A number of European states have recently opted to grant the Palestinian state symbolic recognition. Denmark was the latest nation to hold the vote, following on from Britain and Spain, with their non-binding agreements.

France, which is working with the UN to end the conflict through a resolution, has said that "if this final effort to reach a negotiated solution fails, then France will have to do what it takes by recognizing without delay the Palestinian state."

However, Sweden went a step further in becoming the first EU member in Western Europe to officially recognize Palestine, incurring Israeli condemnation.

A number of Eastern European states have already given their official recognition.