Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet Monday with United States President Barack Obama. Analysts expect the meeting will be a tense one.
According to previous reports, Abbas plans to agree to extend negotiations with Israel, but only if Israel frees terrorist leaders and agrees to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) – essentially recognizing the PA claim of ownership over land east of the 1949 armistice line.
Now new reports in the PA media have revealed that Abbas also plans to refuse to recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
Abbas has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel. His reason: he believes millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel must be given the right to “return” to Israel, which could make it a majority-Arab state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that recognition is a crucial part of the peace process. Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would be a sign that the PA intends to end the conflict with Israel, rather than simply restarting it as a battle over “refugees.”
American officials have reportedly urged Abbas to make “tough decisions,” but have not supported Israel’s demand for recognition. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki has explained that while the U.S. recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, “we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement.”