The Palestinian Authority President has rejected the opportunity to meet with Israel’s President during a visit to Brussels by both leaders.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz attempted to broker the meeting between Presidents Reuven Rivlin and Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, with President Rivlin keen to sit down with Abbas.
President Rivlin said: “I was happy to welcome the initiative by the representative of the EU to set a meeting between me and President Abbas who is also visiting Brussels this very day.”
During a press conference alongside European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, the Israeli president said he was “very sorry to learn that he [Abbas] rejected such a meeting,” and found it “strange” that Abbas “refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders”.
President Rivlin, who addressed the European Parliament and pledged Israeli support for the two-state solution, added: “We can talk. We can talk directly and find a way to build confidence.”
Abbas also addressed the European Parliament, saying: “We reject any suggestion of temporary borders or an interim agreement because it’s a waste of time and does not lead anywhere.”
He also claimed that “once the [Israeli] occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world”. In addition, Abbas appeared to promote an historic anti-Semitic libel, saying “certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed”.
The office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, saying that Abbas “showed his true colours in Brussels”. The statement said: “Someone who refuses to meet with the [Israeli] president [Reuven Rivlin] and with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu for direct negotiations, and someone who promotes blood libels in the European parliament, is lying when he claims his hand is outstretched in peace.”
The statement continued: “Israel waits for the day Abbas stops peddling lies and inciting [against Israel].”