Yasser Abed Rabbo, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organization, told reporters on Wednesday that in response to the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a ‘Jewish state’, that Israel must present the map of the state that it wants the Palestinians to recognize, before asking this question.Abed Rabbo told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an News, ‘Israel is an unknown entity in terms of borders [so] how does it suggest we recognize it as a Jewish state? Israel and the US should first set out Israel’s borders’.

Since its creation in 1948, the state of Israel has never declared its borders and has continually expanded its territory with military force into neighboring Palestinian Territories.

The demand that the Palestinians ‘recognize Israel as a Jewish state’ was backed by the US on Tuesday. It means that Palestinian refugees will be denied their right to return to their homes in what is now Israel. Although the Palestinian Liberation Organization has recognized the state of Israel since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, there has been no reciprocal recognition of the state of Palestine by Israel.

In his interview with the Ma’an News Agency, Abed Rabbo denied a quote in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that said the PLO would recognize Israel as a Jewish state if Israel were to declare borders along the 1967 borders. He said that he had not spoken to Ha’aretz, but only spoke to Agence France Presse, and that Ha’aretz had misconstrued the quote.

A US official criticized the media back-and-forth on this point and said that these issues should be decided at the negotiating table and not in the public press.