Abbas counting on EU to pave way for resumption of stalled peace process

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he was pinning hopes on the EU and members of the Quartet to pave the way for the resumption of the stalled peace process.

Abbas, who was speaking in Bethlehem during a joint press conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, said that the Palestinians continue to believe in the need for peace in the region.

“We believe in the two-state solution, where Palestine and Israel would live alongside each other,” Abbas said. “Our efforts to join international institutions and conventions are not directed against anyone.

Rather, this is an attempt to solidify the Palestinian identity as a political entity and an active member of the international community.”

Abbas said that the Palestinians continue to extend a hand of peace to Israelis on the basis of international resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. He warned, however, that the continued occupation and settlements were undermining the prospects of achieving peace.

He also said that he was working to form a Palestinian unity government. He added that this step would be followed by elections in the Palestinian territories. Such a unity government would be formed on the basis of Abbas’s own political agenda, he said.

He thanked Italy for its humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Syria which it distributes through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Renzi said that he discussed a number of joint projects with Abbas, including Italy providing training for the PA security forces in the West Bank.

He said that Abbas would visit Italy on September 19, noting that Italy and the PA recently signed 11 cooperation agreements, including an aid commitment to the Gaza Strip.

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