Abbas Calls on European Countries to Recognize Palestine

Palestinian President addresses parliamentary assembly of the 47-member Council of Europe Thursday, two weeks after applying for United Nations recognition.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to European countries to recognize a Palestinian state, saying "there is no more appropriate time" than now.

Abbas addressed the parliamentary assembly of the 47-member Council of Europe on Thursday after applying two weeks ago for United Nations recognition, despite a threatened United States veto in the Security Council.

Mahmoud Abbas AP Sept. 23, 2010

President Barack Obama has told the UN General Assembly that a state can only be established through negotiations with Israel.

Seventeen members of the Council of Europe have recognized the state based on 1967 borders with Israel, Abbas said. The assembly is made up of national lawmakers in Europe - not to be confused with the European Union's Parliament - and focuses on human rights.

Abbas wants as many European countries as possible on board.

"There are European states that have said they will do so: they will recognize a Palestinian state at the appropriate time," he said. "I believe there is no time more appropriate than this moment."

The largely sympathetic assembly has urged its six members with Security Council seats - France, Russia, Britain, Germany, Portugal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina - to support the Palestinian bid at the UN.

In the face of U.S. support for a return to negotiations, and a tricky political calculus in the UN Security Council, Abbas's appeal amounted to a pitch to hold - and strengthen - support among Europeans he sees as supportive.

Answering questions from assembly delegates Thursday, Abbas insisted there was no "contradiction" between the Palestinian effort for recognition through the Security Council, and the long-stalled peace process.

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Abbas said he believes UN "technical procedures" will delay any action on his membership bid for at least a month.

While he didn't want to speak in "specific numbers," Abbas said that permanent members Russia and China are among the countries who have said they will support the bid.

Abbas compared the Palestinian prisoners to abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, saying that the Palestinians want the detainees freed in the same way that Aviva and Noam Shalit want their son released. Hamas has been holding Shalit in Gaza since 2006, despite many attempted deals to secure his freedom.