Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday delivered a fiery speech to Islamic clerics in Ramallah during which he warned the international community not to demand that he recognize Israel as the "Jewish state."
The international community "cannot force us to recognize the nature of the Israeli state," declared Abbas. "Do not force us to recognize a Jewish state. We will not accept it."
One of Israel's chief demands since the peace process started in 1993 has been that the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people. Most Israelis would argue that only by doing so can they feel confident that the Arabs have relinquished their quest to destroy Israel.
Abbas also stated once again that he will not accept absorbing millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees" into a new Palestinian state. Despite being labeled a "moderate," Abbas has been a champion of the hard-line position that Israel must open its borders to these millions of Arabs, thus demographically destroying the Jewish state.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas' defiant speech was just further proof of the true nature of the Palestinian statehood bid scheduled for the UN in September.
"Countries around the world must make it clear to Abbas that the only way the Palestinians will be able to have a state is by stopping their attempt to destroy the only Jewish state in the world," Lieberman told reporters.
Israel has been trying to rally nations supposedly committed to the bilateral Middle East peace process to vote against the unilateral statehood motion. But many have surprisingly signaled that they will vote with the Palestinian Authority, or at best abstain.
The statehood motion is expected to be vetoed by the United States in the Security Council, but will likely pass by a wide margin in a non-binding General Assembly vote.