JERUSALEM (JTA) — Mahmoud Abbas said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" the Palestinian Authority president asked in a speech Monday in Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it will be impossible for the two sides to arrive at a peace agreement if the Palestinians do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, though he has not made it a precondition to restarting talks.
Abbas also said that he will not resume peace talks until Israel enforces a complete settlement freeze and that Netanyahu must commit to the notion of a Palestinian state, not the "economic peace" the Israeli leader has been promoting.
"If you do not want the two-state solution, then what do you accept?" Abbas said.
Abbas also drew his red line on the final borders of the two states.
"We want a state on the 1967 borders, not a centimeter more, not a centimeter less," he said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded to Abbas’ remarks in a statement released Monday evening:
"The recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the historic process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians," the statement read.
"The more the Palestinians assimilate this fundamental and substantive fact, the sooner the peace between the two nations will progress toward fruition."