Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged European states on Sunday to play a greater role in mediating the peace process and recognize the “State of Palestine,” contending that failing to do so was a betrayal of European values.
“Has the time not come for European states that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so, especially in light of your belief in the two-state solution?” Abbas said in a short speech at a two-day summit of Arab and European leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort city.
“You have recognized Israel, supported it since its establishment and defended its security. That is your right. But your not recognizing the Palestinian right to self-determination in its state is a move that contradicts your values—allow me to [say]—and your European principles."
While several European countries have recognized Palestine, the majority, including France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy, have not done so.
Israel has long said that recognizing Palestine before a peace deal is finalized will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating positions, making it more difficult to reach an agreement.
Abbas contended that European states recognizing Palestine would not be a “substitute” for negotiations, or a move against Israel and said it would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.
Abbas also called on the Europeans to play a greater role in peace negotiations and repeated his frequent call for an international peace conference that was not under the auspices of the US.
The Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration since the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, 2017 and moved their embassy to the city. Relations plummeted further after Washington cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.
Abbas said the US stance encouraged Israel to act above the law and said it mean that the US could no longer act as a “sole” mediator.
Abbas has repeatedly said he will reject the long-promised Trump peace plan that is expected to be unveiled after Israel’s April 9 elections
Instead, he reiterated his support for the Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative, which the Arab League endorsed in 2002 in Beirut.
“Implementing the Arab Peace Initiative as it was found in 2002 is the only way to achieve peace and this is what all the Arabs are standing behind,” he said.
The Arab Peace Initiative calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, in exchange for Arab nations subsequently normalizing relations with it and declaring the Arab-Israeli conflict over.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that he does not want to work within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative, stating he would like to normalize Israel’s ties with the Arab world even without advancements in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
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