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Arab summit refuses to recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'

March 26, 2014 1:01 P.M. (Updated: March 27, 2014 10:14 A.M.)
KUWAIT CITY (AFP) -- Arab leaders fully back a Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, an Israeli demand that threatens to derail peace talks, a joint statement said on Wednesday.

"We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," said the final declaration of the two-day Arab summit in Kuwait.

President Abbas told the 25th Arab League summit that the Israeli government was trying to renege on its commitment to release Palestinian prisoners and was not serious about peace talks.

"The Israeli government took every chance to foil the American efforts. This proves what we say about the lack of seriousness and preparedness of the Israeli government to withdraw and create peace."

Abbas rejected partitioning the al-Aqsa mosque either physically or by imposing a schedule in which Jews and Muslims be able to worship separately.

Ahead of the summit, Arab officials told Ma'an that Arab envoys were considering withdrawing the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

The initiative -- which calls for two states on the 1967 borders and a "just settlement" of the refugee issue in exchange for full normalization between Israel and the Arab world -- was largely rejected by Israeli officials after it was approved at the 2002 Beirut summit.

The PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in 1988, but say that recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state" is unnecessary and could jeopardize the right of return for Palestinian refugees and limit the rights of Palestinians living in Israel.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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