Israeli PM slams Abbas’ refusal to recognise Jewish state

Jerusalem, Feb 4: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ unwillingness to recognise Israel as a Jewish state in an interview by New York Times.

Abbas in the interview published Sunday proposed his own plan for security arrangements with Israel. The proposal accepts some major demands imposed by Israelis throughout the deteriorating peace negotiations starting last July, Xinhua reported.

The Palestinian president would agree to have the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) deployed in the West Bank for five years after an agreement is signed that NATO forces would guard West Bank instead of the Palestinian army, accepting the demand to have the Palestinian state demilitarised and preventing weapons smuggling that concerns Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu Monday told parliament members of his right-wing Likud Party that he did not take notice of the security proposals but focused on Abbas’ refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, which Abbas stated was not a demand in the peace agreements Israel signed with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

“It’s absurd to expect an agreement in which we recognise the Palestinian state as the national state of the Palestinian people and they do not acknowledge a Jewish state,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Israel Radio.

On the other hand, left-wing politicians praised Abbas’ proposal and slammed the hawkish tone in Netanyahu’s recent statements about the peace process.

“Agree or not (to Abbas’ plan), at least he has a plan,” Itzhak Herzog, chief of the Labour party and the leader of opposition, told members of his party Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Omer Bar Lev, the member of Knesset, hailed Abbas’ proposal and said that “concrete timeline of five years” will force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to quit the zig-zagging and internal squabbling and make clear statements to the Israeli public regarding the direction in which he intends to lead the country.”

IANS