Abbas Asks EU to Recognize Palestinian State Within 1967 Borders: 'You're the Main Partner in Building Palestinian State'

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting U.S. vice president Mideast visit and taking their push for statehood to the Europeans

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Brussels, Belgium, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Brussels, Belgium, January 22, 2018Credit: \ YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

>> Update: Arab Israeli lawmakers protest, thrown out of Knesset session during Mike Pence speech

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders during a joint press conference on Monday with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.

The Palestinian president said that recognizing Palestine will not be a barrier to peace and that "the only way to achieve peace with Israel is through internationally led negotiations." He also said that the he is holding on to hope that there is peace on the horizon, and that the public must be encouraged to believe in "a culture of peace."

Abbas added that the EU is among the main partners in building the institutions of a Palestinian state, and that the Palestinians will seek full implementation of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

At the press conference, Mogherini reiterated the EU's commitment to investing in the Palestinian state-building process, aiming to "reassure Palestinians and [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas of [the EU's] continued support, including financial" through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East."

Mogherini called UNRWA "invaluable," in the agency's work ensuring Palestinians' "access to basic services such as education, health and jobs, pending resolution of their situation." The United States withheld $65 million from a payment it was scheduled to transfer earlier this month to the UN agency.

Abbas' meeting in Brussels took place while Pence addressed the Knesset as part of his visit to Israel. The Palestinian Authority boycotted Pence's visit.

Abdel Rahim al-Farra, Palestinian Ambassador to the EU, said Monday that Abbas will brief EU foreign ministers on the situation since U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, al-Farra added that Abbas will also seek to sign bilateral agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the EU, and ask for UNRWA funding in the wake of the U.S. cuts to the organization.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pence discussed a united Jerusalem. Meeting privately, Pence told Netanyahu it was a "great honor" to be in "Israel's capital, Jerusalem".

Even though Israeli-Palestinian relations are at a low-point and the Palestinians are not even talking to the Americans, Pence said he is hopeful "we are at the dawn of a new era" of renewed efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Trump's historic announcement in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital broke with U.S. policy that left the city's final status as a point to negotiate in peace talks. Israel annexed traditionally Arab East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War but the Palestinians claim it as their future capital.

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