A meeting between Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas will not take place Thursday, as had been hoped. The meeting was being organized by European Parliament head Martin Schultz, who had sought to bring the two together in Brussels, where they are meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Schultz invited the two at the beginning of the week, and Rivlin accepted immediately. Abbas delayed answering, turning down the invitation on Thursday. In response to reporters’ questions, Rivlin said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “prepared to meet with anyone at any time” in order to advance the peace process. A source in the Israeli delegation said that Rivlin and Netanyahu were working together both had agreed that the meeting would be a good idea.
Commenting on Thursday’s events, Rivlin said that it was “strange” that Abbas kept refusing “to meet with Israeli leaders, even with the support of the international community, which keeps urging him that such meetings are necessary. If we speak directly we can find a path to build trust. I was once again disappointed when I heard that he turned down the meeting.”
In his own comments to the European Parliament, Abbas did not relate to the cancellation, but again complained that Israel was “changing the reality of Jerusalem and its historic identity.” In addition, he said, Israel had turned Palestinian Authority-controlled areas “into a jail.” He emphasized that he was in favor of the two-state solution, with territory exchanges for the settlement blocs. The PA, he added, was determined to achieve its goal of a Palestinian state through diplomacy, not violence.