GAZA, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - A Palestinian negotiator said on Saturday that the Palestinian authorities were not going to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a move which would cripple the peace process between the two nations.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed in early September after being stalled for almost two years. The Israelis demand that Israel be recognized by the Palestinian National Authority as a Jewish state, otherwise they said establishing peace would be impossible.
Nabil Shaath, a member of Central Committee of the Fatah movement controling the West Bank, said during a public lecture in Ramallah that direct peace talks would be halted if Israel continued settlement construction in the occupied territory.
"The decision is in the Israeli government's hands," he said.
The issue of Jewish settlements is among the main sticking points that have prevented peace between Israel and the PNA.
According to Israeli media reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had indicated during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem on Wednesday that he was not going to extend a moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, which expires on September 26.
Some analysts, however, believe that even if the suspension is not extended, the Israeli government could be reluctant to give permissions for the construction of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Shaath said peace process would depend on the Israeli authorities' practical steps.
Since direct talks resumed in early September, Abbas and Netanyahu have met three times.
After their most recent meeting in Jerusalem, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the Israeli and Palestinian leaders were "tackling up front" the core issues of the Middle East settlement, adding that it was a "strong indicator of their belief that peace is possible."