Palestinians: Netanyahu declared end to talks

2014-03-05 06:48
 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) policy conference in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) policy conference in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

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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 recognise Israel as a Jewish state and his rejection of Palestinian demands on refugees and international peacekeepers were "totally rejected".

In his address to the annual policy conference of Aipac, Netanyahu directly appealed to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and to "abandon the fantasy" of flooding Israel with refugees.

"President Abbas: recognise the Jewish state... you would be telling the Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees," he said.

"In recognising the Jewish state, you would make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict," he said, referring to a highly sensitive issue that has become a major point of contention in the struggling US-led peace talks.

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 seven months of direct peace talks which were convened with an end-April deadline.

In a meeting at the White House on Monday, US President Barack Obama told Netanyahu that Israel needs to take tough decisions if the talks are to have a future.

Abbas is to visit Obama on 17 March.

Read more on:    mahmoud abbas  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  barack obama  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east peace
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