A senior PLO official was quoted as saying that Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas was prepared to recognize Israel – this time, for real. A story in Maariv Thursday quoted Nabil Amaro as saying on PA television that Abbas would agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as part of the negotiations being conducted by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Israel has insisted that the PA recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and so far Abbas has refused to do so. According to Abbas, the PA has already recognized Israel's right to exist and has promised to respect whatever borders are negotiated. By recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, he claims, the rights of Israeli Arabs will be damaged, and the PA would no longer be able to demand that Israel accept hundreds of thousands of Arabs, as the PA is demanding.
The PA has long demanded that Israel repatriate millions of descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 for various reasons, which would flood Israel with Arabs and essentially destroy it as a Jewish state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state was a key factor in resolving the Middle East conflict. In order to ensure "peace between us and our neighbors, the Palestinians, you must recognize the right of the Jewish people to live in their own State, in their own national and historical homeland. What this means is that they must recognize this arrangement as a permanent one, and to lift Palestinian national demands - for a Right of Return or for the formation of any other state,” Netanyahu said at a recent cabinet meeting.
In his comments, Amaro said that “there is a willingness on the part of Abbas and his negotiating team to accept Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state. He added that the PA was open to “creative ideas” from the US and Europe on resolving the conflict, and that he expected the Kerry-sponsored talks to continue past April, when they were originally scheduled to end.