EU’s Mogherini calls for ‘concrete steps’ to end violence
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas late Monday to discuss “concrete steps” to calm the surge of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We have a meeting tonight to discuss the ways EU can contribute to a de-escalation,” Mogherini said in brief comments before a working dinner, according to the AFP news agency.
The EU’s diplomatic chief said she hoped the pair would discuss “concrete steps on the ground, including difficult ones, that can strengthen the Palestinians on an everyday basis”.
The European Commission is the biggest provider of financial aid to the Palestinians, providing more than 5.6 billion euros ($6.19 billion) to Abbas’ Palestinian Authority since 1994, noted AFP.
Mogherini, who met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, admitted there was “a certain degree of frustration” in Europe over thepeace process, which collapsed in April 2014 amid bitter recriminations.
That round of talks, mediated by Secretary of State John Kerry, ultimately failed when the PA torpedoed talks by requesting to join 15 international agencies in breach of the conditions of the negotiations.
The Middle East Quartet, of which Mogherini’s EU is a member, has attempted in recent months to resume peace talks, but those have been rejected by Abbas who continues to impose preconditions on negotiations.
Abbas, in Monday’s meeting with Mogherini, repeated his criticism of what he said was Israel’s “non-respect” for the rules at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, which is at the center of the recent wave of violence.
“The situation in Palestine is extremely serious and grave and may even deteriorate. This is my fear,” he said, according to AFP.
“The main reason is the feeling of disappointment (among) the young generation,” who feel there is “no hope,” Abbas added.
Despite his previous rejection of talks, Abbas urged a revival of peacenegotiations, calling for Israel to halt construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and to prevent what he termed “incursions” on the Al-Aqsa compound.
Arab rioters have been turning the Al-Aqsa Mosque into a terror den in recent weeks, but yet it is Israel which has been blamed for the violence, even though it acts in self-defense to protect the compound from the rioters.
Netanyahu on Saturday night released a statement in which he stressed that Israel will continue the current practice whereby Muslims are permitted to pray on the Temple Mount whereas non-Muslims are only allowed to visit the compound, which is of significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians.