Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the EU to “swiftly” recognise the state of Palestine in a meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels, saying that such a move would encourage Palestinians “to continue to hope for peace.”
Mahmoud Abbas was welcomed on the sidelines of the monthly meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, chaired by the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini, where he hoped to convince the European Union to “swiftly recognise” the state of Palestine, “in response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Abbas said there was no contradiction between such recognition and the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel. The recognition of Palestine as an independent state by the EU, which Abbas described by as a “true partner and friend”, would guarantee “equivalent” treatment of both parties to the conflict and allow for the prospect of reactivating the peace process, according to the Palestinian leadership.
Abbas’s visit to Brussels took place at the same time as US Vice President Mike Pence was received in Jerusalem by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he followed up on President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognise Jerusalem as the capital Israel. He said that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of 2019.
The United States, he added, “strongly urges” Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table.
Back in Brussels the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Abbas that the decision to recognise Palestinian statehood could only be taken by the member states, but she assured him of the EU’s continued financial support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees after the US cut its aid to the agency by $100 million earlier this month.