Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday urged the member states of the European Union to “swiftly” recognize the state of Palestine, arguing such a move would preserve the Palestinians’ hope for peace.
“We truly consider the European Union as a true partner and friend, and therefore we call its member states to swiftly recognize the state of Palestine and we confirm that there is no contradiction between recognition and the resumption of negotiations,” Abbas said in an address in Brussels.
The Palestinian leader argued that such a move “would encourage the Palestinian people to keep hoping for peace, and to wait until peace is brought about. It will open the doors to peace and it will encourage the Palestinian people to keep on abiding by the culture of peace that has disseminated through it for generations.”
The Israeli government has argued in the past that unilateral recognition of the state of Palestinian will toughen the Palestinian stance, and make it harder to reach a final peace deal between the two sides.
Abbas, who gave his remarks alongside EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, called on the EU to play a larger role in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The EU should play a political role in this Middle East peace process in order to reach a just solution on the basis of internationally recognized terms and decisions,” Abbas said.
Abbas was speaking in Brussels at the same time as US Vice President Mike Pence was addressing the Knesset in Jerusalem, vowing that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year.
The plan to move the embassy, together with US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, led the Palestinian leadership to declare that Washington could no longer fulfill the historic and central role in the peace process it has held for over two decades.
Instead, Abbas is now seeking some kind of international framework through which the Palestinians can win an independent state. The main players in that arena now, from his point of view, are the EU, the UN, Russia and China.
The Palestinians have said the US could also participate in this international process to establish a Palestinian state.
Mogherini said the EU remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it’s “the only viable way to fulfill the aspirations of both sides.”
Abbas also declared Monday that the Palestinians remain committed to agreements signed with Israel, contradicting a decision he voted for last week in the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Committee — the second-highest decision-making body of the PLO — that said the Oslo accords, which govern relations between Israel and the Palestinians, “no longer stand.”
“We are committed to agreements between us and the Israeli side. But at the same time, we call upon the Israeli side to comply with those agreements… It is not possible that these agreements will be complied with by one side and not the other,” Abbas said.
One of the key aims of Abbas’s trip to Brussels is to ask for increased financial aid from the EU in the face of threats by the United States, the largest single donor to the Palestinians, to end its aid to Ramallah.
Mogherini reassured Abbas of the EU’s “continual support, including financial.”
Mogherini said the EU would continue to support United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), whose work she called “invaluable.”
The US froze payments worth $100 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees earlier this month. Since then, Sweden and Belgium together donated $81.5 million.