Catherine Ashton (R) 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas harnessed the opportunity of a meeting with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Friday to call upon the nations of the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state, the AFP reported.
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Ashton, who arrived in Israel on Thursday, met with Abbas as well as Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank on Friday. Prior to traveling to the West Bank, she met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem.
According to the report, Abbas during the meeting "affirmed that the Palestinian position was to resume the peace process" with Israel, on the condition that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu embrace the rhetoric of two states and halt all settlement construction.
During his meeting with Ashton, Lieberman saidthat if the Palestinians
unilaterally declare statehood, it will bring an end to the Oslo
"A move like that will be a violation of all the agreements that were
signed until today," Lieberman said. "Israel will no longer be committed
to the agreements signed with the Palestinians in the past 18 years."
He added: "In light of Abbas's current stance, the chances for negotiations are zero."
"Abbas is not interested in an agreement," the foreign minister
explained. "He wants conflict, because that is his personal interest,
even though it is against the Palestinians' interest, and many oppose
"Israel is prepared to renew negotiations. The ball is in the Palestinians' court," Lieberman said.
According to her spokesman, Ashton came to Israel to urge all sides to return to the negotiating table.
In an official statement, the spokesman said, "We are well aware that
September is fast approaching. With the events of the Arab Spring and
following President Obama's speech, it is more urgent than ever to
engage in meaningful negotiations and move the Peace Process forward."
The statement added, "The EU's position on this is clear, as set out in
Council conclusions. That is the message [Ashton] passed on very clearly
in her meeting with Minister Liberman."
Ashton is expected to meet with Netanyahu on
Sunday. She is also set to meet with opposition head Tzipi Livni and