If occupation ends, so will terror worldwide, Abbas tells EU

In speech to Brussels parliament, PA leader repeats hoax story of rabbis calling for poisoning of Palestinian wells

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

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

In an appeal to the European Union on reaching a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said an end to Israeli presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would eradicate terrorism across the globe.

Speaking to European Parliament lawmakers, Abbas also underscored Ramallah’s support for a two-state solution as outlined in the current French peace plan and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and pleaded with EU lawmakers to save Palestinians from Israeli “provocations,” including what he said were calls by rabbis to poison Palestinians’ water — repeating a hoax story.

“We are against terrorism, in whatever form it may take, and whoever carries it out,” Abbas told members of the European Parliament to a resounding applause.

“Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Speaking a day after his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin spoke in the same venue and rejected the French multilateral peace push, Abbas rebuffed the possibility of reaching an interim peace agreement with Israel as an exercise in pointlessness.

“We reject any suggestion of temporary borders or an interim agreement because it’s a waste of time and does not lead anywhere,” he said.

“We favor a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, and the solution will be based on the Arab Peace Initiative that was approved in 2002 with no changes to it,” Abbas said. “Our hands are extended with a desire for peace, we have the political will to achieve peace.”

An international conference aimed at resurrecting the stalled peace talks, to be held later as part of the French plan, must include a “set schedule for negotiations and the implementation of decisions, and constitute a mechanism for the implementation and monitoring of the decisions, as happened in the negotiations with Iran,” he said.

The Palestinian leader went on to condemn Israel’s “never-ending provocations” and “fascist policies,” and pointed as proof to sharp criticism of Israel’s current leadership made recently by former prime minister Ehud Barak and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Israel, Abbas charged, has started three wars in Gaza and killed thousands of people in the process. Since 1967, the PA leader continued, Israel has imprisoned over 1 million Palestinians.

“Israel has “turned our country into an open-air prison,” Abbas told EU lawmakers. “You are our friends, help us.”

In his address, Abbas also touched on the persistent Israeli accusations of Palestinian incitement, saying he was willing to re-start the Tripartite Committee on Incitement watchdog group to monitor calls for violence on either side, a move Israel has consistently rejected.

He called for the EU to join the joint US- Israeli-Palestinian commission.

While Israel typically accuses Palestinian officials of encouraging violence against Israelis, Abbas claimed that rabbis in Israel had recently called for the poisoning of Palestinian water supplies to murder Palestinians.

“The Israelis are doing this as well… certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed,” he said, repeating an anti-Semitic canard.

A story reported in the Turkish press earlier in June claimed a rabbi had made such a call, leading to denunciations by the Palestine Liberation Organization, though the story was quickly debunked.

Abbas went on to press EU lawmakers on why Israel was “free to act with impunity” and was not held accountable under international law.

“Why is international law not being applied in the case of Israel?” he asked to applause by MEP lawmakers.

The European Union has been pressing hard to get the stalled Middle East peace process back on track based on a two-state solution.

EU foreign ministers on Monday backed a French initiative to call an international conference on the Middle East aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have been deadlocked since 2014.

On Wednesday Rivlin addressed the EU parliament, saying the French plan was doomed to fail and suffered from “very fundamental faults.

Like other international initiatives to reach a peace agreement, the president said the plan’s inflexible “all or nothing” approach to the implementation of a two-state solution ignores the total lack of trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

Rivlin urged EU nations to instead show patience and facilitate trust-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians.

Later Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin was set to meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

Abbas met with Mogherini earlier in the day, and told a press conference he had doubts about Israel’s commitment to peace

“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.

Earlier in the day, Rivlin’s office said Abbas had spurned an attempt to broker a sit-down between the two while in Brussels.

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