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Abbas speaks to European parliament, slams international community's inaction over occupation

June 23, 2016 11:22 A.M. (Updated: June 24, 2016 10:56 A.M.)
BRUSSELS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech in front of the European Union parliament on Thursday regarding the current state of Palestine and its people within the occupied territory and around the world.

Abbas slammed the international community’s complacency with Israel’s illegal occupation, saying: “their [Palestinians’] history, heritage, identity and geopolitical entity were historically massacred in the twentieth century, and that the massacre is still ongoing through the twenty first century under the eyes and ears of the international community.”

Abbas emphasized the fact that it has been nearly 100 years since the Balfour declaration in 1917 and 68 years since the Nakba -- or 'Catastrophe' -- when Israeli forces “committed massacres and crimes and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians turning them into refugees, and removed more than 448 villages and towns that our people had lived in for thousands of years.”

Abbas added that the “dark seasons” Palestinians lived through in wartime were still ongoing under an occupation that began in 1967 and has been characterized by “ugly racism” and arbitrary procedures.

“We are persistent in resisting and remaining in our lands and to get rid of occupation in political, diplomatic and peaceful ways,” he said.

Abbas had met with European Union officials late on Wednesday to discuss ongoing peace efforts surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas reportedly held separate meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with whom he brought up the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territory and the French peace initiative which began earlier this month.

“If Israel wanted peace with its Arab neighbors, it must end its control over our people and home country first by withdrawing from our lands and acknowledging the rights of our people, which also has a significant interest for Israel as it would be possible then to apply the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with the Beirut conference of 2002,” Abbas said in a joint conference following the meetings.

Abbas applauded French and European efforts to boost the peace process, while reiterating Palestinian leadership’s support for an international peace conference pushing for a two-state solution with a specific timeline.

PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh, presidential diplomatic advisor Majdi al-Khaldi, and Palestinian ambassador to Brussels, Abd al-Rahim al-Farra, accompanied Abbas during his visit to Brussels.
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