Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech in front of the European Union parliament on Thursday regarding the current state of Palestine and its people within the occupied territory and around the world.
Mahmoud Abbas declines European official’s request to meet Israeli counterpart in Brussels, Israeli press reports, according to Anadolu Agency.
Abbas slammed the international community’s complacency with Israel’s illegal occupation, saying: “their [Palestinians’] history, heritage, identity and geopolitical entity were historically massacred in the twentieth century, and that the massacre is still ongoing through the twenty-first century under the eyes and ears of the international community.”
Abbas has refused to meet his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin, in Brussels, the Israeli press reported Thursday.
Abbas emphasized the fact that it has been nearly 100 years since the Balfour declaration in 1917 and 68 years since the Nakba — or ‘Catastrophe’ — when Israeli forces “committed massacres and crimes and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians turning them into refugees, and removed more than 448 villages and towns that our people had lived in for thousands of years.”
According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, European Parliament President Martin Schulz asked Rivlin if he would be willing to meet with Abbas while the two men were in the Belgian capital.
While Rivlin had voiced his readiness to meet the Palestinian president, the newspaper reported, the meeting failed to materialize after Abbas declined the invitation.
Yedioth Ahronoth went on to quote Rivlin as saying that the current Palestinian leadership was “divided” and that a more effective Palestinian leadership was needed to achieve peace.
Abbas added that the “dark seasons” Palestinians lived through in wartime were still ongoing under an occupation that began in 1967 and has been characterized by “ugly racism” and arbitrary procedures.
“We are persistent in resisting and remaining in our lands and to get rid of occupation in political, diplomatic and peaceful ways,” he said.
Abbas had met with European Union officials late on Wednesday to discuss ongoing peace efforts surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas reportedly held a separate meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with whom he brought up the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territory and the French peace initiative which began earlier this month.
“If Israel wanted peace with its Arab neighbors, it must end its control over our people and home country first by withdrawing from our lands and acknowledging the rights of our people, which also has a significant interest for Israel as it would be possible then to apply the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with the Beirut conference of 2002,” Abbas said in a joint conference following the meetings.
Abbas applauded French and European efforts to boost the peace process, while reiterating Palestinian leadership’s support for an international peace conference pushing for a two-state solution with a specific timeline.
PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Presidency spokesman
Israel-Palestine peace talks have been suspended since 2014 when Israel objected to attempts by the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas to agree on the terms of a proposed Palestinian unity government.
Since January of this year, France has been pushing its own initiative aimed at reviving the moribund peace process.
While Israel remains openly skeptical about the French initiative, the PLO says it welcomes any peace plan that could lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.