Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini give a press statement before a meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini give a press statement before a meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Abbas visits Brussels to gain support for independent state

Mon, Jan. 22, 2018
CAIRO – 22 January 2018: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Brussels to meet EU Foreign Minister Federica Mugherini on Monday to get the European Union’s support for an independent state, according to AFP.

The Palestinian president will also meet the foreign ministers of European Union member countries on the sidelines of their monthly meeting, as happened during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit last December.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Ryad El-Malky told France Press on Sunday that Abbas would ask the EU to recognize a Palestinian state in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The visit coincides with a tour by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the Middle East, including Egypt, Jordan and Israel, and boycotted by Palestinian leaders.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen wave upon their arrival at Ben Gurion international Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel January 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

“The Palestinians are looking to move from a U.S.-led process to a more a multilateral process, and there does appear to be a greater willingness on the EU side to look at such a process,” said Hugh Lovatt, Israel Palestine Project Coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

He added that the EU wants to contribute to re-launching the stalled peace process, which has stopped since 2014, to save the “two-state solution,” but it is clear that recognition of a Palestinian state is not on the table today.

Trump’s move will “serve the extremist groups’ agenda” and drag the region into “an endless religious war,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech on Palestinian TV.

The EU meeting also tackled two regional issues, including the Libya crisis, where the EU supports United Nations efforts to help illegal migrants return to their countries, and the Iran crisis after Trump questioned the nuclear deal.

Trump’s decision was condemned and rejected by all Arab and Islamic countries, as well as most Western and Asian countries, adding that such moves could ignite new violence and bury any hope of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to denounce the American decision on Jerusalem in different cities across the world.

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Demonstrators condemn President Donald Trump's reported statement about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and El Salvador on January 12, 2018 in Miami, Florida

On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by announcing the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018 - REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Historically, before 1947, Palestinians had 96 percent of the land, but then the U.N. partition plan gave Jews 56 percent, and Israel occupied 23 percent of Palestinians’ 40 percent amid world silence, Abbas said, adding that, in 1967, Israel occupied the entire territory.

Today, Palestinians are demanding only 22 percent of their historical land, Abbas regretted, claiming that Palestinians are the Canaanites who have been in the area for more than 5,000 years, but also stating that modern Palestinians have lived there for 1,400 years when Arab Jebusites built ancient Jerusalem and gave it the origin of its name, Urusalim.
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