Palestinians must give up 'right of return'

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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

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