search

EU officials ask Rivlin to meet Abbas in Brussels

Israeli president ready ‘anytime, anywhere’ to speak with Palestinian leader but no get-together scheduled

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

European Union President Donald Tusk, right, welcomes Israeli President President Reuven Rivlin before  their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, June 21, 2016.   (AFP/JOHN THYS)
European Union President Donald Tusk, right, welcomes Israeli President President Reuven Rivlin before their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, June 21, 2016. (AFP/JOHN THYS)

European officials have asked President Reuven Rivlin if he would be willing to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while the two men are in Brussels this week.

According to a Tuesday report from Ynet, it was President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz who approached Rivlin with the suggestion for a meeting.

Rivlin’s foreign affairs adviser, David Saranga, confirmed to Army Radio that a get-together had been proposed — without identifying who was behind the idea — and said the Israelis had responded with “anytime, anywhere,” echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks on his willingness for talks with Abbas.

In May, during a speech before the diplomatic corps at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to mark Israel’s 68th Independence Day, Netanyahu said he was willing “to meet President Abbas today in Jerusalem. If he’d like, in Ramallah. Right now. Today.”

Saranga said that any meeting with Abbas, if it were to take place, would include a call to meet with Netanyahu

“In this kind of meeting, one of the things that needs to be said and would be said by the president is the importance of a direct meeting of Abu Mazen [as Abbas in known] with the prime minister,” Saranga said.

No such meeting has been scheduled.

Rivlin, who met with President of the European Council Donald Tusk on Tuesday, is set to address the European Parliament on Wednesday and meet with Schulz, who in February 2014 spoke before the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Abbas is set to speak at the European plenum on Thursday.

Rivlin and Abbas were initially supposed to stay in the same hotel during their time in Brussels, Ynet reported, but when the arrangement was publicized, the Palestinian delegation quickly found an alternative location.

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz adressess the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 12, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

The EU has recently been making renewed efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians restart talks toward reaching a peace agreement, while positioning itself as a significant element in negotiations.

After his meeting with the Israeli president, Tusk said that the EU will “back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both Israel and the future state of Palestine.”

He stressed that “a lasting peace in the region remains a top priority” for the EU.

AP contributed to this report.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed