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Abbas looking to fill US-sized hole with more support from EU — report

January 12, 2018

Source: The Times of Isrel



Published 11 January 2018


Pan-Arab daily says PA president will head to Brussels later this month with 3 demands: recognize Palestine, support UN membership bid, increase financial aid

Abbas looking to fill US-sized hole with more support from EU — report

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) speaks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini during a press conference following their meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. ( EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will later this month visit the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, where he will present a “package of demands” that will set a new course to achieve Palestinian statehood, according to a report Thursday.


The Palestinian leader will demand the recognition of the state of Palestine along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to a report in the London-based Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.


Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, the Palestinians have said Washington can no longer play its historic and lead role in the peace process.


The Palestinians are now seeking new ways forward to establish an independent Palestinian state without the help of the Americans.


According to the report, which cites an unnamed senior Palestinian official, Abbas will present three demands to EU ministers when he travels to Brussels on January 22.


President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 23, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS)


These are: the recognition of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, support for full Palestinian membership in the United Nations, and an increase in financial support to the PA to compensate for a dramatic decrease in aid should the US, the largest international donor to the Palestinians, follow through on its threat to cut aid.


Abbas will visit Brussels just one week before a committee of key donor groups to the Palestinians will convene in the EU capital for an emergency session. This 15-member group, called the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), includes the US and the EU.


The ministerial-level meeting will be held in Brussels on January 31.


A resolution in the UN Security Council criticizing Trump’s Jerusalem decision was supported by all the EU countries in the body, but ultimately vetoed by the US.


Most EU countries also also voted for a similar non-binding resolution at the General Assembly, though five abstained on the measure.


According to the senior Palestinian official, Abbas will ask EU countries to turn their opposition to the US decision into political action.


Ties between Ramallah and Washington have reached a nadir in the wake of Trump’s decision, with Palestinians boycotting US officials and declaring the US can no longer act as peace broker.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas listens while US President Donald Trump makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)


In his December 6 speech, Trump said his decision merely recognized the reality that Jerusalem already serves as Israel’s capital and wasn’t meant to prejudge the final borders of the city. He called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites. The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.


However, the US leader later said he had taken Jerusalem “off the table.


Trump earlier this month threatened to cut US aid to the Palestinians, saying on Twitter that Washington gets “no appreciation or respect” from the Palestinians.


“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted on January 2.


“With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”


According to the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s website, the United States has been the largest donor of aid to the Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994. This aid has totaled around $600 million annually in recent years, around half of it to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA).




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