Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reaffirmed his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
He also stressed that the Palestinians would not accept any solution that did not include east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
“We don’t love death, but we welcome martyrdom if it happens,” Abbas declared. “We will march to Jerusalem in the millions, as free people and heroes.”
Referring to Israeli demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said, “This is a story that we have heard only in the last two years. We won’t recognize and accept the Jewishness of Israel. We have many excuses and reasons that prevent us from doing so.”
Abbas was speaking during a meeting in his office with dozens of east Jerusalem residents.
Israel’s problem is that the Palestinians know more than the Israelis about history and geography, he said. “We talk about what we know,” he said.
“We won’t accept the Jewishness of Israel. We are asking for the 1967 borders.”
On the current peace talks with Israel, Abbas said the negotiations would continue only for nine months [ending in late April]. “After that, we are free to do what we want,” he said. “The talks are limited to this period.”
He said that Arab League foreign ministers who are scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry this week would tell him that Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the State of Palestine.
“Without this, there would be no solution,” Abbas said. “No one is authorized to sign [an agreement] without this.”
Dismissing Israel’s refusal to talk about Jerusalem, Abbas said that without east Jerusalem being the capital of a Palestinian state there would be no peace with Israel.
“Jerusalem is not Abu Dis,” he said, referring to the village located on the eastern outskirts of the city – outside the municipal boundaries. “Rather, Abu Dis is part of Jerusalem.”
Regarding the issue of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Abbas said that Israel has linked this matter to settlements.
“Each time a batch of prisoners is released, they announced new housing projects,” he said. “They say this is part of the agreement. But this is a lie. There is no relation at all between the release of prisoners and settlements. Settlements are illegal from the beginning to the end.”
Abbas said that when the two sides reach an agreement, the Palestinian lands, borders and airspace would be under full Palestinian sovereignty.
“We will have our own borders and we have nothing to lease,” he explained. “No one can deceive us.”