Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reiterated his refusal to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a condition Israel has placed on reaching a final status peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
Israel hopes to blunt the Arab demand that it open its gates to millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees" by gaining recognition from the Arab world as the national home for Jews. Israeli leaders point out that acquiescing to that demand would dramatically tip the population scales and demographically destroy the world's only Jewish state.
Speaking to reporters as he arrived in Saudi Arabia, Abbas said that there should be two states, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, and accepted that Israel is populated by Jews and other people. That, he insisted, is the extent of what the Palestinians are prepared to recognize.
Abbas was touring Arab capitals following last week's US-hosted Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland. The Palestinian leader said that the conference had inaugurated fresh peace negotiations with Israel that would formally begin on December 12, with follow-up summits to be held on still undetermined dates in Paris and Moscow.