Rivlin ‘sorry’ about ‘strange’ Abbas snub

In Brussels, Rivlin says “Israel’s relationship with the EU is strong and vibrant.”

“Israel and the EU are bound together by many, many ties,” he says.

The president urges direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is a great tragedy and it is our responsibility, and our will, to build bridges of trust between the two peoples,” he says. “Even if we cannot reach a lasting agreement at this moment, we must be active and build more trust between all sides.”

“Direct talks is the only possible way to build trust” and “there are no shortcuts, nor detours in the Middle East,” he adds.

“On a personal level, I must say that I find it strange that President Mahmoud Abbas, my friend Abu Mazen, refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders and turns again and again to the support of the international community. We can talk. We can talk directly in a way to build confidence,” Rivlin says.

President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)
President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

He hails the initiative to organize a meeting between him and Abbas in Brussels.

“I was very sorry to learn he rejected such a meeting,” adds Rivlin.

The president says “there is a lot to be done” to advance peace.

He also urges the EU to “respect Israeli considerations” in advancing the peace initiatives “even when it is different from your own.”

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