Netanyahu urges Palestinians to recognize Israel as "Jewish state"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem on Sunday that in order to have peace the Palestinians must “recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people".
"The Palestinians must abandon their refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their national state," he said in a speech at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv as reported by Ma’an News Agency.
Netanyahu expressed that the acknowledgement was a "a condition for reaching an agreement at the end of negotiations, but not for launching them".
After nearly three years of non-negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis, peace talks began again in July. Direct talks are being held in the West Bank and Israel under US imposed media blackout. They are expected to last nine months but nothing concrete has been accomplished in the process thus far.
"The root of the conflict is the Jewish state," Netanyahu said.
"Are you finally ready to recognize the Jewish state, the national state of the Jewish people?" he asked, directly addressing Palestinian leaders. Netanyahu claims that all responses have been a resounding “no”.
Netanyahu also urged Palestinians to “renounce the right of return” for refugees and spoke again on the need for “solid security arrangements that meet the real security needs of Israel."
While peace talks are still underway, the Israeli government has announced its plans to construct thousands of housing units in settlement areas deemed as illegal. This has caused warning from the EU that building the homes would end peace talks rendering them “impossible”.
A Israeli military forces have killed at least seven Palestinians since peace talks began and several protests and demonstrations have occurred against revisiting negotiations.
Palestinian responses have said that establishing Israel as a “Jewish state” is not necessary and would only threaten those Palestinians currently remaining in Israel.