Abbas Refuses to Recognize Jewish State

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas doesn't care what Israel calls itself, the PA's official Ma'an news agency reported on Tuesday.

"Israel can call itself…the Jewish-Zionist Empire," Abbas said, adding that its designation was "uninteresting" to him.

Abbas was responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations calling on the PA president to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

"This is a move the Palestinians have refused to make for 62 years," Netanyahu said. "Its significance is Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self-definition in their historic homeland. I recognized the Palestinians' right to self-definition so they must do the same for the Jewish people," he said.

"He [Abbas] cannot evade the issue nor can he use vague words and terms," Netanyahu said. "He must recognize the state as Jewish and say it in a clear manner to his people in their language," he said.

In a related issue, Abbas threatened again to walk away from negotiations if Israel does not extend the 10-month construction ban on new housing in Judea and Samaria, set to expire on September 26.

"The negotiations will continue as long as the settlement [building] remains frozen, but I am not prepared to negotiate an agreement for a single day more," Abbas told Agence France Presse.

According to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, Abbas intends to call for an end to the "the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land" and the creation of a "Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital" in his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly later this week.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with the PA's al-Hayat al-Jadida daily, Abdullah Abdullah, the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) ambassador to Lebanon, said the recently restarted talks with Israel are simply another facet in the Palestinian struggle," the Palestinian Media Watch reported.

"[The talks are] not a goal but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle...to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose…and to threaten its legitimacy," Abdullah said.

"Israel faces international isolation, with doubt cast on its legitimacy" because of its "war crimes," he said.

"[Israeli officials] are afraid to travel to European countries lest they be put on trial for their crimes," Abdullah said. 

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