Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on member states of the European Union to recognize “the State of Palestine,” saying such a move would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.
Abbas made the remarks at a press conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels before meeting with 28 foreign ministers of EU member states and EU foreign affairs chief Frederica Mogherini.
“We call on these states to recognize the State of Palestine,” Abbas said, referring to EU member countries.
“Recognition will not be an obstacle on the road to peace, but rather it will encourage the Palestinian people to preserve hope that peace is coming,” he said, adding, “It will encourage people to continue to hold onto the culture of peace that was disseminated among the Palestinian people over the years.”
Israel has said that recognition of “the State of Palestine” will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating position, making it more difficult to reach a final peace deal.
More than 130 countries have recognized “the State of Palestine,” but the vast majority of EU member states have not made such a move.
However, on Sunday, Channel 10 reported that Slovenia likely will recognize “the State of Palestine” in February, citing senior officials in Jerusalem.
On Monday, Abbas privately met with Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec. According to the official PA news site Wafa, the two discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and bilateral ties between their countries and ways to develop them.
At the press conference on Monday, the PA president also said the Palestinians remain committed to signed agreements with Israel.
“We are committed to the agreements that were signed between us and the Israeli side, but we call on Israel to undertake its role in abiding by them,” he stated. “It is not acceptable for only one side to be committed to these agreements.”
Abbas’s statement appeared to contradict the decision a top Palestine Liberation Organization body made last week that said Palestinian obligations to the Oslo Accords “are no longer standing.”
The Oslo Accords are a series of agreements that Israel and the PLO signed in the early 1990s that established the PA and its various institutions.
At a second press conference following the meeting of the European foreign ministers, Abbas and Mogherini, the EU foreign affairs chief said that she and the European ministers told the PA president they support relaunching peace talks within a multilateral framework.
“We reaffirmed... our conviction that the framework [for the peace process] has to be multilateral,” she said.
The US has traditionally dominated the role of mediator in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mogherini said the framework the EU backs would include the Quartet, which is made up of the US, UN, EU, Russia and some Arab countries.
While the US administration has worked with the Quartet and Arab states in its efforts to revive the peace process, it is not clear if it would be amenable to granting them a greater role in it.
According to Mogherini, Abbas appears to be “perfectly fine” with the EU’s vision of an international framework for peace talks.
Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, several Palestinian officials have called for the establishment of a multilateral mechanism for the peace process.
For its part, Israel has said it will only work with a US-led peace process.