Ma'an News Agency
October 14, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON (Ma’an) -- The US on Wednesday supported the PLO's request to see a map of Israel's borders, but said such demands must be made face-to-face, not through the media.

PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo on Wednesday called on Israel and the US to provide a map of Israel's borders before "asking anything else."

"Israel is an unknown entity in terms of borders [so] how does it suggest to recognize it as a Jewish state? Israel and the US should first set out Israel's borders," he explained.

The PLO rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer Monday that Israel would stop building settlements on Palestinian land for two months in exchange for the Palestinian Authority's recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

US State Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley said Abed Rabbo's request to see a map of Israel's borders was "the essence of the negotiation – what are the borders of a future Palestinian state, and conversely, what will be the borders of the Israeli state." As such, it was a "perfectly legitimate" question, but one that must be resolved in direct negotiations, Crowley said.

In a daily press briefing Tuesday, Crowley said the US recognized Israel as a Jewish state, noting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama "have said this before."

The PLO officially recognized the State of Israel in 1993, but has refused Netanyahu's recent demand, which it said would threaten the civil rights of Palestinians living inside Israel, and forfeit the right of refugees to return.

While Abed Rabbo told Ma'an he had only spoken to Agence France-Presse over the issue, he was quoted in the Israeli daily Haaretz as offering recognition of Israel "according to the formulation of government within the hour" if Israel offered a map with 1967 borders.

According to the daily, Abed Rabbo said "Any formulation the Americans present – even asking us to call Israel the 'Chinese State' – we will agree to it, as long as we receive the 1967 borders. We have recognized Israel in the past, but Israel has not recognized the Palestinian state."

The comments drew harsh criticism from Hamas, who have called for the PLO official's immediate resignation over the issue.

Gaza government spokesman Taher An-Nunu said Abed Rabbo did not represent the Palestinian national consensus, and that his offer gave "dangerous concessions" to Israel.

The offer of recognition betrayed Palestinian refugees, and denied Palestinians the right to live on their land, he said, adding that the statement proved the PLO leadership was not protecting Palestinians' interests.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017