abbas - Reuters - November 17 2011
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Photo by Reuters
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The European Union should support the Palestinians' recognition bid at the United Nations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday, a day after the Palestinian flag was raised at UN cultural agency UNESCO in Paris.

"Yesterday we raised the flag of Palestine in front of UNESCO," Abbas said in Brussels after talks with EU President Herman Van Rompuy, and before meeting EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.

"I hope that [the EU] will come when we will raise the flag of Palestine at the United Nations, with the support of the European Union," he added.

Abbas thanked the bloc for supporting the UNESCO bid, even if four EU members - including Germany - voted against it and 14, including Britain, Italy and Poland - abstained on the issue.

Belgium, France and Spain were among the countries which voted in favor.

EU nations are equally split on the notion of supporting a bid for full UN membership, which Israel, with the United States' support, strongly opposes.

The Israelis' refusal to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian land is seen as a major stumbling bloc for restarting deadlocked peace talks.

Speaking before Abbas, Van Rompuy praised Palestinian state-building efforts, which are largely funded by the EU, but warned that the "best way" to achieve a two-state solution in the Middle East "is through direct negotiations between the parties."

Both leaders stressed the importance of striking a deal in ongoing reconciliation talks between Abbas' Fatah movement, which is running the West Bank, and its radical foe Hamas, which is based in the Gaza Strip and is listed as a terrorist organization in the EU and the U.S.

Any Palestinian national unity government that may result from a Fatah-Hamas agreement should stick to the moderate principles that Abbas has committed himself to, Van Rompuy insisted.