In Brussels, Mahmoud Abbas calls on EU to recognize a Palestinian state

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini making statements prior to a lunch meeting with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels.

BRUSSELS—Palestinian  Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state. ‘’There is no contradiction between such a recognition and the resumption of peace negotiations,’’ he said in a statement in Brussels before entering a lunch meeting  with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers.

“We pay all due respect to the positions of European Union,we trully consider the EU as a true partner and friend,” Abbas said. “Therefore, we call on its member states to swiftly recognise the state of Palestine, and we confirm that there is no contradiction between recognition and a resumption of negotiations”.

He said ‘’such a recognition would encourage the Palestinians to keep hope for peace and open doors to peace,’’ he said after being welcomed by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini at the Foreign Affairs Council building.

In her statement, Mogherini reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to a two-state solution as the ‘’only realistic way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.’’. ‘’It’s not the time to disengage,’’ she said, stressing that Palestinians and Israelis ‘’need to show more than ever their engagement for a negotiated outcome.’’

In what appeared to be a veiled reference to US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, Mogherini called on those involved in the process to speak and act “wisely”, with a sense of responsibility.

“I want to reassure President Abbas of the firm commitment of the European Union to the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states,” Mogherini said.

Before Abbas’ arrival, she was more outspoken, saying: “Clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. That is a very diplomatic euphemism,” in reference to Trump’s position.

Abbas said that despite the hurdles on the way  ‘’we remain committed in opposing violence and terrorism.’’

He added that the Palestinians are committed to comply with the treaties signed with Israel, in a reference to the Oslo agreements.  ‘’We call upon Israel to play its part and comply with the treaties.’’

How will the EU respond to Abbas’call for the recognition of a Palestinian state  ?

According to a senior EU official, such a recognition lies in the hands of individual member states. In 2014, Sweden became the first EU member in western Europe to make such a move, saying at the time  ‘’we hope this will show the way for others’’. Ireland, Belgium and Slovenia are reportedly ready to recognize the Palestinian National Authority as a full-fledged national government.

The best Abbas can hope from the EU as a whole is progress toward an “Association Agreement” with the EU, a move pushed by France to support a two-state solution, even though such an agreement could only come into effected under Palestinian statehood. The EU already has such an Association Agreement with Israel since 2000.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday ahead of the meeting with Abbas that France wants the European Union to start work on an agreement on closer ties with the Palestinian territories, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Concerning relations between the European Union and Palestine, we want to move from an interim agreement to an Association Agreement and immediately engage a process in that direction,” he said.

Just before the EU ministers met with Abbas, German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth said ”Mahmoud Abbas has told unacceptable things and we will tell him,” in a reference to the recent address of the PA President at a meeting of the PLO Central Council in Ramallah where he said among others that Israel ”is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations” and that the Jewish people ”have no connection to the Land of Israel.”

Abbas’s talks in Brussels come as US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel and one month after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also met with the EU Foreign Ministers.

 

Yossi Lempkowicz :