The Palestinians cannot accept Israel as the Jewish state because they lived in the region long before the Jews, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said over the weekend.
Speaking with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at the Munich Security Conference, Erekat rejected the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize it as the Jewish homeland.
"When you say, 'Accept Israel as a Jewish state,' you are asking me to change my narrative," he said.
Erekat justified his claim by saying that his ancestors were the real descendants of the Canaanities and lived in the area for "5,500 years before Joshua Bin-Nun came and burned my hometown, Jericho."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Israel and the Palestinians at the conference for their efforts in the peace talks thus far, but warned of a dangerous fallout should they fail.
Kerry said Livni had been "absolutely spectacular in this process, committed to it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken very tough decisions to move this down the road, very tough decisions, as has Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas."
Kerry stressed the importance of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Today's status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It's not sustainable. It's illusionary," he said.