AL-QUDS â€“ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said he would never sign a peace deal with the Palestinians that didn't scrap Palestinian refugees' "right of return" or which didn't call for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state."
"They [Palestinian negotiators] said this week that they would never recognize a Jewish state or give up the right of return," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post at a closed meeting of his Likud Party's parliamentary bloc.
"I won't bring a deal that doesn't cancel the right of return and doesn't involve the Palestinians recognizing a Jewish state," he was quoted as saying.
"These are just fundamental conditions," he reportedly added. "The Palestinians aren't showing any sign of willingness to reach a practical and fair deal."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, has repeatedly said that the Palestinian Authority would not compromise on longstanding Palestinian principles â€“ including refugees' right to return to historical Palestine â€“ in its ongoing peace talks with Israel.
Palestinian officials say they will not recognize Israel as a "Jewish state," nor will they approve construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.
They also demand a "just solution" to the refugee issue and the release of all Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails.
Direct US-brokered peace talks between IsraelÂ and PalestineÂ resumedÂ in Washington last summerÂ after a nearlyÂ three-year hiatus.
During a visit to the region in January, US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a "framework"Â for an eventual peace dealÂ that would addressÂ so-called "final-status issues," including borders, security, refugees and Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
By Anees Barghouthy
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