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Israeli-Palestinian Diplomacy Shifts to Europe

Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin are in Brussels today for meetings with the European Union (EU) and the European parliament. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas struck out sharply at Israel, calling on Israel to end its “regional domination.” If that happens, Abbas said, Palestinians will implement the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which calls for dozens of Arab countries to recognize Israel. At the same time, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin spoke to the European parliament, chiding Europe for what he called the “massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe,” and saying it stems from “a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.” The fact that both Abbas and Rivlin were in Brussels at the same time led to speculation in the Israeli press that the two men might meet, which would be the first high-level meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in years. However, The Jerusalem Post reported that Abbas nixed a meeting with Rivlin. The Israeli President’s trip also comes as Israel is bracing for a report set to be issued by the “quartet” of the EU, US, Russia and UN, that is expected to be sharply critical of Israel for its continued building in areas of the West Bank that Israel acquired in 1967.