Top EU diplomat says bloc to discuss return to 2-state formula with Abbas
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Top EU diplomat says bloc to discuss return to 2-state formula with Abbas

Diplomats say EU won’t recognize Palestinian state, will consider some form of association deal with Palestinians

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrives at the European Council in Brussels to attend a foreign affair council meeting, January 22, 2018.  (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND)
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrives at the European Council in Brussels to attend a foreign affair council meeting, January 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND)

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat said EU foreign ministers will study ways to support a two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories in talks Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Federica Mogherini said that the EU is working “to support an international framework to accompany direct negotiations” despite the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

US President Donald Trump’s move in December to recognize Jerusalem, which the Palestinians also see as their future capital, broke with international consensus on the best way forward in Middle East peace moves.

Trump said his move was merely an acknowledgement of the reality that Jerusalem was the seat of Israel’s government, and was not intended to prejudge the city’s final geopolitical borders.

Mogherini told reporters that “clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. I would say that this is a very diplomatic euphemism.”

She said “the only pragmatic, realistic solution for Jerusalem has to come through direct negotiations.”

The Palestinian leadership, furious over the Jerusalem decision, has said it will not accept the Trump administration as a mediator in peace talks with Israel and wants an internationally-led process.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaks to the media during an Asian African Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Abbas will seek EU support for a Palestinian state Monday, but he looks unlikely to get much the in way of concrete commitments.

In an interview with AFP on Sunday in Brussels, PA foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Abbas would urge the European Union to officially recognize the state of Palestine “as a way to respond” to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

But diplomats and officials in Brussels said recognition for Palestine is not in the cards for Monday — the EU leaves recognition in the hands of individual members — and the best Abbas can hope for is progress toward an “association agreement” with the bloc.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported Sunday that France is trying to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status at the EU, stopping short of full recognition of a Palestinian state.

The French are reportedly pushing for an EU free trade agreement with the Palestinians, similar to one signed with Israel.

On Sunday, Slovenia’s envoy confirmed plans to vote on recognizing Palestine as an independent state next month.

Three other European countries — Luxembourg, Ireland and Belgium — are thinking of following suit, according to Israel’s Channel 10 news, which first reported on Slovenia’s plans as well.

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