An Abbas-Rivlin handshake today is dependent on traffic in Brussels

Abbas is due to arrive while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is in the midst of a four-day visit to Brussels and the EU.

June 22, 2016 18:05
1 minute read.
Rivlin Abbas

Rivlin and Abbas. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Bad traffic in Brussels may soon be added to the long list of reasons for the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

No, that actually isn’t a joke.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to land in Belgium around 6 p.m. on Wednesday. He will then head straight to the European Parliament where he is scheduled to meet with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Abbas is due to arrive while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is in the midst of a four-day visit to Brussels and the EU.

Rivlin and Abbas both have offices just about an hour’s drive from one another, with one working in Jerusalem and the other in Ramallah.

Yet the fact that they will both be in Brussels at the same time has fueled speculation that an accidental or intentional meeting between them might occur.

The flurry of diplomatic activity in Brussels comes as the European Union is pushing, along with France, to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been frozen for over two years.

Rivlin spoke of the importance of resolving the conflict when he address the European Union parliament earlier on Wednesday. Abbas is to set to speak to the parliament on Thursday.

At a brief press event immediately after Rivlin’s speech, a reporter from Israeli radio asked him and the head of the European Parliament Martin Schulz about the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian meeting.

“Is a meeting between President Rivlin and President Abbas about to happen here in Brussels today or tomorrow,” she asked.

Schultz responded by saying it is up to Brussels’ traffic.

He explained that Abbas’ plane lands at about 6 p.m. and “taking into account the usual traffic jams here in Brussels between the airport and the EU parliament, I hope he will arrive in due time before President Rivlin will leave.”

Schultz continued, “The diplomatic progress depends a little bit on the time tables of both. If they are both crossing the floors of the European Parliament, I think they will not run away.”

Rivlin added, “I assure you I will not run away.”

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