Abbas seeks statehood recognition

European Union rejects a

Saying he was in a "very difficult situation", Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday continued to seek international recognition for a Palestinian state. It came despite the European Union's earlier rejection of a Palestinian plan for gaining recognition as an independent state at the UN Security Council without Israeli consent. "What is the solution for us? To remain suspended like this, not in peace? That is why I took this step," he said in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to AFP. "The decision emanates from an Arab follow-up committee (of the Arab League) that was convened recently ... and which agreed to go the Security Council for it to say that it supports an independent Palestinian state." Earlier Tuesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters "the conditions are not there as of yet" for such a move. "I would hope that we would be in a position to recognize a Palestinian state, but there has to be one first, so I think that is somewhat premature." The EU's foreign ministers on Tuesday were discussing ways to coordinate with the United States to get Palestinians and Israelis back to peace talks, said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external relations commissioner. "The most important thing until now is to really help the Americans bring both sides to the table," she said. The 27-nation bloc has taken a back-seat approach to recent efforts by President Barack Obama and his special envoy for Mideast peace, George Mitchell, to restart peace talks between the two sides. Bildt said he could understand why the Palestinians were suggesting such a move, as a way to break the current deadlock. "It is clearly an act borne by a difficult situation where they don't see any road ahead and I can understand that," said Bildt. He reiterated EU calls that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu move to freeze all Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, a key Palestinian demand it is pushing for before it will return to negotiations. Netanyahu, who refuses to halt settlement construction, has repeatedly urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table without conditions. Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, told reporters that moving to set up a viable Palestinian state "has to be done with time and with calm and in an appropriate moment." He added no one is "looking for that today." Palestinian officials launched an appeal to EU countries on Monday to back their plan while the idea of seeking UN intervention has gained support in the Arab world, as a way to break the impasse in peacemaking. The Palestinian UN plan also has been rejected by Washington, which along with the EU backs a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli government has threatened to nullify past accords with the Palestinians if they take any unilateral action. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that any Palestinian move on independence "will be countered by a unilateral move on our part." The Palestinians have not set a timetable for presenting a formal proposal to the Security Council. But with the backing of the Arab League, they have been lobbying UN member states to support such a proposal when it is submitted.