Abbas Hardens Line, Dismisses “Even Holding a Discussion” on Recognition

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League on Tuesday that he rejects “even holding a discussion” over Israel’s long-standing requirement that any comprehensive peace deal must see the Palestinians acknowledging Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, according to a transcript of his speech conveyed in a longer analysis published yesterday by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Israel has invented new conditions that it did not raise before, like recognizing it as a Jewish state. This we oppose as well as even holding a discussion on this matter.

The stance has the potential to deeply complicate the peace process. The Obama administration in general, and the State Department in particular, has repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. framework designed to move the talks forward would include such “mutual recognition,” which the Israelis have emphasized is necessary as a signal that the Palestinians are genuinely prepared to cease pursuing territorial claims against Jerusalem.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been working for months to overcome Abbas’s intransigence on the condition. Kerry met with Abbas on Wednesday in what Bloomberg described as “a bid to avert a breakdown in his peacemaking efforts as an April 29 deadline nears.”

“It’s clear we will not see anything like an agreement or a document,” said Yoram Meital, a political science professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. “The U.S. efforts in Amman, which will probably continue in Jerusalem, are all aimed now at keeping the channels open and trying to bridge disagreements so this round of talks isn’t perceived as a failure.”

A February meeting between the two had reportedly seen Abbas “explode[] with rage” at what he termed Kerry’s “insane” proposals.

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