Netanyahu: no peace until Palestinians recognize Jewish state, give up right to return
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's commentary Tuesday may further distance Israel and Palestinian delegations from reaching agreement to extend peace talks past April deadline (File Archive/AFP)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that Tel Aviv would not sign any deal with the Palestinians as part of ongoing peace talks until the latter recognizes Israel as the Jewish state, according to Agence France Presse.
"They (Palestinians) say they will never recognize a Jewish state and that they will never give up on the right of return. 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," Netanyahu said as part of an address to the Israel's right-wing Likud-Beitenu party.
"These are basic conditions, which are justified and vital to the security of Israel," he added.
Netanyahu also discussed how peace talks were "getting further away" from reaching a deal than ever before largely over the Jewish state and right of return issue among other critical sticking points. With the Israeli leader's commentary Tuesday, it looks like talks may "get [that much] further away" than ever before.
The U.S. brokered peace talks are scheduled to end in April, but U.S. officials have been trying to extend the negotiations beyond the nearing deadline.
Palestinians however, have previously condemned Netanyahu's commentary surrounding the peace talks, saying that he has been putting "the final nail in the coffin" with his latest public statements.
Palestinian leadership has refused to recognize a Jewish state that it will "deny their historical narrative" and "cancel out" their right of return as refugees from the 1948 war that led to Israel's establishment.
"The Palestinians are not showing any signs they are getting close to entering into a practical and justified agreement," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who is spearheading the peace talks extension effort.
Palestinian leader Mahmood Abbas, however, did previously say publicly that he "does not want to flood Israel" with Palestinian refugees, but Israeli leadership fears that "any flexibility on this issue could open the floodgates to millions of refugees."
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