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Abbas meets with EU representatives, Fatah delegation in Belgium

March 27, 2017 8:11 P.M. (Updated: March 28, 2017 12:56 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a joint press conference with the European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Monday, in which he said he was still “seeking a just and comprehensive peace” with Israel, Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported. 

In his statements to the press, Abbas said that “ending the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine and its capital East Jerusalem is a prerequisite for a final peace agreement,” adding that ultimately Abbas and the PA seek a solution based on international frameworks and resolutions, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative which emerged from the 2002 Arab League Summit in Beirut. 

"The ongoing Israeli policies of occupation and oppression won't bring about peace," Abbas said, expressing hope that the Israeli government and people would not miss the "obtainable" opportunity to make peace.

According to Wafa, Abbas pointed out that he and Mogherini had previously discussed the latest developments and international endeavors “to determine the best way for reaching a just, comprehensive, and permanent solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict.”

Abbas arrived in the Belgian capital on Sunday evening, where he met with a delegation of the Palestinian political Fatah movement based in Brussels. 

"There won't be a Palestinian state in Gaza, nor will there be a Palestinian state without Gaza," Abbas said. He added that with support from the Palestinian public, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) would “thwart all plots and conspiracies against the Palestinian plight.”

In addition to his meeting with Mogherini on Monday, Abbas also met with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Abbas has been on a tour of Europe and the Middle East in order ““to strengthen support for Palestine’s national cause,” Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said earlier this month when the tour was announced. 

On Saturday, Abbas received a special “Hope for Peace” prize at the Steiger Award ceremony in Germany. The Steiger Award said on its website that it had chosen to hand the prize to Abbas as a “clear signal” vis-a-vis the stagnating Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In a speech during the ceremony in the German city of Dortmund, Abbas said that the PA, which he heads, had created a committee to “maintain and support tolerance and coexistence" between Palestinians and Israelis, with the goal of achieving a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

While the Steiger Award says it recognizes individuals for their “straightforwardness, openness, humanity and tolerance,” Abbas has faced growing anger at home.

Elected president of the PA in 2005, Abbas indefinitely extended his mandate in 2009.

In the 12 years of Abbas’ rule, the PA has been on the receiving end of mounting criticism over its corruption and seeming inability to advance towards a just solution for Palestinians.

However, it is the PA’s security coordination with Israel -- which has been denounced by critics as a “revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons -- which has become the most prominent target for critics of Abbas’ government, as detention raids by Palestinian police have sparked violent clashes, in recent weeks.

The killing of prominent Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj at the hands of Israeli forces earlier this month, months after he was released from Palestinian custody, has also inspired anti-PA protests, which were violently suppressed by Palestinian police.

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