Report: Israeli President Rivlin Snubbed by Palestinian Authority’s Abbas in Brussels
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Brussels, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Thursday morning.
According to the report, European officials had asked Rivlin at the beginning of the week if he would agree to such a meeting, and he answered in the positive. Due to Abbas, however, Rivlin is returning to Israel on Thursday without a handshake.
The policy of the Israeli government – Rivlin said, when asked about his willingness to talk to the PA President – “is that it is ready to meet [with the Palestinian leader] at any time and place.”
Rivlin made this statement during a four-day trip to Belgium, as the European Union is pushing to adopt the French initiative to jumpstart a renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Rivlin addressed the 751-strong European Parliament and criticized the French initiative, launched on June 3 with a meeting of 28 countries and organizations – but without Israeli or Palestinian representation.
“The undermining push for a permanent solution is a chronicle of failure foretold from the start, that only pushes the two nations deeper into the fold of despair. This despair is the hottest bed for extremism, and undermines the endeavors of moderates. And this despair, ladies and gentlemen, today seizes not just members of my generation, but also boys and girls growing up in this part of the world, whose world view and awareness are shaped by the violent present. This despair, ladies and gentlemen, is the gravest danger looming over us, Israelis and Palestinians alike,’’ Rivlin said. “If the international community really wishes and truly aspires to be a constructive player, it must divert its efforts away from the renewal of negotiations for negotiations’ sake, and toward building trust between the parties, and to creating the necessary terms for the success of negotiations in the future.’’
During a joint, post-speech press conference held by Rivlin and European Parliament President Martin Schultz, an Israel Radio reporter asked about the rumored meeting between the Israeli president and Abbas.
Schultz answered that it would depend on “the usual traffic jams here in Brussels between the airport and the EU Parliament.” He then expressed hope that Abbas would arrive at the parliament before Rivlin leaves.
Rivlin said, “I can assure you that I will not run away.”
According to nrg, as soon as the meeting was discussed, Israeli analysts were skeptical about its taking place, and called rumors about it “exaggerated.”
The French initiative comes after a nine-month surge in Palestinian terrorism in Israel, sparked last September by claims on the part of the PA leadership that the Jewish state had changed the status quo on the Temple Mount — the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Israel has fervently denied this claim as false.