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Jewish state rejected by Arab League

KUWAIT CITY — Arab leaders said Wednesday they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, blaming it for a lack of progress in the Mideast peace process.

The announcement by the Arab League was a rejection of a key demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a boost to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the faltering negotiations.

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Netanyahu believes there can be no peace with the Palestinians without recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The Palestinians oppose this, saying it harms the rights of Palestinian refugees displaced from what is now Israel, as well as those of Israel’s large Arab minority.

The statement, at the end of a two-day Arab League summit in Kuwait, also rejected what it described as the continuation of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and the ‘‘Judaization’’ of Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and settlement construction has continued throughout the negotiations.

‘‘We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East,’’ the communique said. ‘‘We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.’’

It said the League rejects what it said is ‘‘the continuation of settlements, Judaization of Jerusalem, attacks on its Muslim and Christian shrines and changing its demographics and geography.’’

Wednesday’s announcement set the stage for Abbas to take a tough line in talks later in the day with Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan.

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Kerry arrived in Jordan on Wednesday in hopes of jump-starting the peace talks. He met with King Abdullah II before a dinner with Abbas. A State Department spokeswoman said Kerry also would talk with Netanyahu in the next few days.

In Kuwait, Abbas delivered scathing criticism of Israel in an address to the summit late on Tuesday, saying it was staging a ‘‘criminal offensive’’ to step up settlement building in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In Israel, a senior official said Abbas threatened to ‘‘torpedo the peace process’’ and paraded ‘‘rejectionism as a virtue.’’

‘‘By reiterating his adversarial maximalist position, Abbas is undermining President Obama’s vision of peace and torpedoing Secretary Kerry’s efforts to move the process forward,’’ said the official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

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