Abbas Calls on EU to Recognize Palestinian State

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meets Palestinian PM, president after Lieberman tells her, 'Abbas does not want an agreement, but rather confrontation with Israel.'

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called upon European Union nations on Friday to recognize a Palestinian state, according to an AFP report.

According to the report, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Abbas had held a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, during which he "affirmed that the Palestinian position was to resume the peace process" with Israel and expected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume negotiations and stop settlement construction, especially in Jerusalem.

abbas - AP - June 12 2011

"We are calling on the European Union to help us on the question of moving the United Nations to accept Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders," Erakat was quoted as saying by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA in the AFP report.

Ashton met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Abbas Friday in the West Bank after she met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem.

During their meeting, Lieberman threatened that Israel will renounce past agreements, including the Oslo Accords, with the Palestinians if they continue their unilateral pursuit of statehood recognition from the United Nations in September.

"The unilateral move at the UN is the end of the Oslo Accords and would be a violation of all agreements that we have signed until now," Lieberman said. "Israel would not be obligated to the agreements that it has signed with the Palestinians over the past 18 years."

Lieberman added that there is zero chance that negotiations with the Palestinians will resume, due to the position of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Abbas does not want an agreement, but rather confrontation with Israel," Lieberman said. "This is his personal interest, even though it is contrary to Palestinian interests and many in the Palestinian Authority oppose him."

Lieberman said that Israel is ready to renew negotiations and that the ball is in the court of the Palestinians.

Ashton said that in light of the events of the Arab Spring and in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East policy speech "it is more urgent than ever to engage in meaningful negotiations and move the peace process forward."

She said that a "clear reference framework" is needed to allow Israel and the Palestinians to return to peace talks.

Ashton will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

Ashton seeks urgent solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Earlier this week, Ashton called for the urgent convening of the Middle East Quartet in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Quartet - the U.S., EU, UN and Russia - would gather as a precursor for support for a peace plan based on the Middle East policy speech delivered by President Barack Obama at the State Department last month.

In the letter, Ashton expressed concern for the regimes that "are holding on to power, spreading insecurity and instability" across the Arab world. "This situation makes it even more urgent to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Ashton added. "Unfortunately, we have not seen any progress on that front."

In an apparent reference to Palestinian efforts at the UN, Ashton wrote: "This is no time for unilateral moves on either side, since this could lead to escalation. This is in nobody's interest, least of all that of the Israeli and Palestinian people who want the opportunity for safety and prosperity for their families."