Palestinians must give up 'right of return'

AL-QUDS – 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 – including refugees' right to return to historical Palestine – 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 Israel and Palestine resumed in Washington last summer after a nearly three-year hiatus.

During a visit to the region in January, US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a "framework" for an eventual peace deal that would address so-called "final-status issues," including borders, security, refugees and Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

By Anees Barghouthy

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency