Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday, directly urged Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ and to ‘abandon the fantasy’ of ‘flooding’ Israel with refugees.

But his remarks sparked a furious reaction from the Palestinians who denounced his demand and said it had effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the US-led peace talks.Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel
Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington on
March 4, 2014

(AFP/Ma’an) The latest spat threw a harsh spotlight on the yawning divide between the two sides, and the task faced by US Secretary of State John Kerry who is trying to get them to agree a framework for extending direct peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

Addressing delegates at the annual policy conference of AIPAC, Netanyahu said he was prepared to make an ‘historic peace,’ but not without a Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a ‘Jewish state.’

‘It’s time the Palestinians stopped denying history,’ he said, returning to a major point of disagreement in peace talks, which have struggled to make headway in the last seven months.

‘President Abbas: recognize the Jewish state and in doing so, you would be telling your people … to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees,’ he said.

Netanyahu insists that only when the Palestinians acknowledge Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ will the conflict be finally over.

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