Ramallah: Palestinians will never recognise Israel as the “Jewish state,” president Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, as his leadership convened to chart a course of action after Israel halted peace talks.

“In 1993 we recognised Israel,” Abbas told members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Central Council, adding that the Palestinians should not be forced to go a step further and recognise Israel’s religious identity.

Israel had made recognition of it as a “Jewish state” a key demand in peace talks, which it withdrew from after Abbas’s PLO on Wednesday signed a reconciliation deal with the Islamist Hamas movement, which does not recognise Israel’s right to exist.