Arab League Foreign Ministers today issued a statement backing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against formally recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state.” Abbas declared on Thursday he would never make such a recognition.
Israeli officials have repeatedly demanded the recognition in recent months, while Abbas has insisted that a recognition of the internal nature of the Israeli state is not up to him.
The issue is contentious because Israel is the home to a significant Arab minority, and neither Abbas nor the Arab League is eager to formalize their status as second-class citizens in Israel.
Abbas went on to say that any peace deal with Israel would have to be approved by a referendum of all Palestinians worldwide, including millions of Palestinian refugees expelled from modern-day Israel. This recognition would effectively kill the referendum’s chances.
Israeli officials blasted the Arab League statement as proof that there will never be peace, and that Abbas and the Arab League are dealing with “fantasies” of a “maximalist position.”