Abbas tells Ashton he wishes to resume peace process

In a meeting with EU foreign policy chief, Palestinian Authority president calls on European Union nations to recognize a Palestinian State.

June 18, 2011 09:27
2 minute read.
Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)


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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.

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.

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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 Accords.

"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 him."

"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 Palestinian officials.

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