Abbas says he won’t recognize Israel as Jewish state

JERUSALEM (JTA) –  Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told supporters that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state or sign a peace deal that fails to include eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority president made the remarks in a speech on Saturday during a visit by hundreds of Palestinian activists to his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank, The Associated Press reported.

Abbas also said he would not negotiate beyond the original nine-month deadline set by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the U.S.-backed negotiations to end in a final status deal. After the deadline, which expires in May, Abbas said he will seek international recognition for a Palestinian state without an agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not sign an agreement unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Kerry reportedly will return soon to the region to present a framework agreement to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that covers the core issues.

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