I’ve flagged this before as the crux of the two-state solution, and Benjamin Netanyahu shows he’s not kidding around about it:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ruled out any deal with the Palestinians unless they recognise Israel as the Jewish state and give up their refugees’ right of return.

And he said Israel and the Palestinians were getting further away from reaching a peace deal which would end the decades-long conflict, with US-led peace talks bogged down in a bitter dispute over the question of Israel as a Jewish state.

“They (Palestinians) say they will never recognise a Jewish state and that they will never give up on the right of return,” Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast on Israeli public radio.

“I want to make clear that I will not accept an agreement that does not cancel the (refugees’) right of return and which does not include Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state,” he said in an address to the ruling rightwing Likud-Beitenu faction.

“These are basic conditions, which are justified and vital to the security of Israel.”

Leaks from the negotiation process made it seem that the US was willing to ignore this issue in order to get an agreement. The Palestinian Authority bought into that approach yesterday:

The Revolutionary Council of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday unanimously endorsed his rejection of demands to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, officials at the meeting told AFP.

“President Abbas has reaffirmed his refusal to recognise the Jewishness of the State of Israel and council members stood up to hail this decision,” a senior Fatah official said from the meeting in Ramallah.

Abbas said in his speech to delegates that “at 79 years old, he wasn’t going to back down on his people’s rights or betray their cause”, despite the “great pressure being exerted”, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

So much for that attempt.