Abbas to ask EU to recognize 'Palestine'

PA chairman to ask the EU to officially recognize the state of “Palestine” when he meets foreign ministers on Monday.

Elad Benari,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Reuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas will ask the EU to officially recognize the state of “Palestine” when he meets foreign ministers from the bloc on Monday, a senior official told AFP Sunday.

Riad al-Malki, the PA official in charge of foreign affairs, said Abbas will tell the EU it should take the step "as a way to respond" to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

At the same time, Abbas will also "reiterate his commitment to the peace process" in the Middle East, Malki said in an interview with AFP in Brussels.

"Since Trump's decision has altered the rules of the game, he (Abbas) expects the European foreign ministers to come forward and collectively recognize the state of Palestine as a way to respond back to Trump's decision," Malki continued.

"If the Europeans want to be a player then they have to be fair in their treatment of both parties and this should start with the recognition of the state of Palestine," he said.

Abbas will meet EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the bloc's 28 foreign ministers on Monday on the sidelines of their monthly meeting.

Diplomats and officials in Brussels say recognition for Palestine is not on the cards on Monday -- the EU leaves recognition in the hands of individual members -- and the best Abbas can hope for is progress towards an "association agreement" with the bloc.

Malki told AFP that while the PA was "very serious" about such an agreement, they also expected to be formally recognized as a state.

"One does not replace the other. Absolutely not," he stressed.

Two weeks ago, PA sources indicated that Abbas would ask EU's foreign ministers to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 territories with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

The sources claimed that such recognition by the EU would revive the internationally-backed two-state solution and help the Palestinian bid to get a full UN membership.

The PA has been mulling unilateral steps in response to Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A PA official recently said France would be willing to recognize “Palestine”, if other European countries join it in doing so. However, at a meeting last month with Abbas, French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out recognizing “Palestine” as a state unilaterally.

Previously, Abbas urged Spain to recognize the “state of Palestine” in accordance with the recommendation of the local parliament.

Two weeks ago, Rami Hamdallah, the head of the PA government in Ramallah, urged Norway to recognize “Palestine” during a meeting with its foreign minister.

Several European countries have in recent years recognized the state of “Palestine”, but these were symbolic moves that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.


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