RAMALLAH – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington on Tuesday amounted to “an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations,” a top Palestinian official told AFP.
Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath said Netanyahu’s repeated demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and his rejection of Palestinian demands on refugees and international peacekeepers were “totally rejected.”
At AIPAC’s annual policy conference Tuesday, Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to quit making excuses over the key Israeli demand. During the speech, Netanyahu also rejected the idea of international peacekeepers in the Jordan Valley, and made a case for upping pressure on Iran, saying any Iranian nuclear capability would be a threat to the whole world.
“It’s time for the Palestinians stop denying history,” Netanyahu told the supportive crowd. “Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state.”
Such a recognition would send a message to Palestinians, he said, “to abandon the possibility of flooding Israel with refugees or amputating parts of the Negev or Galilee.”
Shaath said Netanyahu’s comments, which he has made repeatedly in the past, “contravene all the rules of the peace negotiations agreed with the Americans”.
Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in peace talks since August, and are expected to soon be presented with a US drafted “framework deal” that would guide the talks beyond their April end-date.
On Monday, Abbas told Meretz party leader MK Zahava Gal-on that he would only agree to extend talks if Israel freed more Palestinian prisoners than the 104 already agreed upon and froze settlement building.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report