Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said that the Palestinian people recognize Israel's right to exist and they hope the Israeli government will respond by "recognizing the Palestinian state on the borders of the land occupied in 1967." The PA president's comments came in a speech to the Dutch parliament in the Hague.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Abbas as saying, "Our primary goal is peace negotiations with the Israeli side and I hope the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation succeed in their efforts to resume peace negotiations."

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Abbas appeared to be referring to talks which are reportedly underway to convene a Quartet meeting at the foreign ministerial level in mid July to propose a formula for peace talks that could coax Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, thereby keeping the PA from taking its bid for statehood to the UN in September.

Envoys from the US, the EU, Russia and the UN – which all make up the Quartet – met last Friday in Brussels and discussed the possibility of a meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Washington on July 11.

There has, however, not been any formal announcement of such a meeting. The Quartet meeting, if it were held, would take place a matter of days before the PA would be expected to inform Ban Ki-moon of its desire to seek recognition at the UN.

Abbas defended the Palestinian decision to seek unilateral recognition of a state at the United Nations by saying that such a move "does not seek to ignore or dismiss or delegitimize Israel." He added that the decision to go to the UN was made only after the Israeli government refused "the terms of reference of the peace process and the cessation of settlement building."

"Today, 117 countries recognize us in the world and we hope those who have yet to acknowledge the State of Palestine do so as soon as possible," Abbas said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report

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