Ramallah: The Palestinian National Authority announced on Wednesday that the Palestinians would never recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
"The Palestinian National Authority will never recognise that Israel is the national state for Jewish people, as such recognition will directly threaten the Muslim and Christian Palestinians in Israel, and will prevent the Palestinian refugees who left their homes and towns decades ago, from the right to return," said Dr Nabeel Shaath, a member of the Palestinian Negotiating Team, the Fatah Central Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Dr Shaath was addressing a press conference held at the Palestinian Ministry of Information in Ramallah.
“We do not reject the idea of Israel being a state of Jewish majority, paying full respect to the secured right of the Jews to practice their religion,” he said. “The Palestinian cause, however, is purely a political cause.”
He pointed out that the Palestinian National Authority has already refused to add new proposals to the agenda of the direct talks. “Netanyahu had a clear intention to add the issue of the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, to the agenda of the Sharm Al Shaikh round of negotiations, but that was totally rejected by the Palestinians,” he said, adding, “We are not ready to expose our people to political and security threats and dangers”.
He said the core issues of the negotiations have already been decided in Washington. “President Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to all the concerned parties during the talks’ restart that we do not accept a single Israeli soldier, regardless of his nationality, to be or to stay on Palestinian soil,” he said.
"We totally understand the Israeli security needs, but that should be traded in return for the understanding of the Palestinian needs for security, land, freedom, recognition and independence.”
He also stressed the importance of the blockade in Gaza and the need to end, as soon as possible, the suffering of the people there.
“We also understand the attitude of the Palestinian opposition in the West Bank and Gaza, in line with their activities after the restart of the direct negotiations, regarding the colony activities,” he said. And in a reference to Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar, Dr Shaath stated, “It is as if he was himself in Washington and a member of the negotiating team.”
He said once an agreement was reached with Israel, it would be put to the people in a public referendum. “Reaching that stage and striking a national peace deal basically requires comprehensive unity on the Palestinian side and support among the Palestinians,” he said. “It’s just the right time for reconciliation and unity on the Palestinian part.”
Dr Shaath denied rumours of difficulties in setting up a negotiating team for the talks. “President Abbas personally leads the team with an ultimate right to include all possible Palestinian capabilities and expertise to the team,” he said.
He announced that Arab leaders would hold an emergency summit in Libya on October 3, and said that the recent visit of President Abbas to Libya and Tunisia, where he met with the Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi and President Zain Al Abideen Bin Ali, was a success.
With reference to promises made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said the real test would come on September 30. “We will wait to that date to find out the actual reality and seriousness of those attitudes and statements,” he said. “We are fed up with promises; we need to see solid actions [and] measures on the ground. The Palestinian stance on colony activities is fixed, stable and solid; if Israel goes back to colony activities and construction, we will never stay and instantly step out of the negotiations.
"The only consequence for Israel resuming the colony activities and refusing to freeze it, is killing the negotiations and their relative hopes.”