Abbas seeks EU help to pressure Israel

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is working to shore up support from countries sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative in his attempts to blame Israel for ongoing Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

By: John-Thor Dahlburg, AP

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas traveled to European Union headquarters Monday to seek the bloc’s help to de-escalate the crisis with Israel, which he blamed on policies and actions of the Israeli government.

Before opening the talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Abbas told reporters the situation was “extremely serious and grave.”

Abbas added, “it may even deteriorate, and that is my fear.”

There have been almost daily Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. In the past five weeks, 11 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings.

Abbas claimed one cause of the flare-up is Israel’s refusal to honor an arrangement “dating back to 1875” governing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that is Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third-holiest.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adamantly denied such allegations, saying they amount to incitement to violence.

The EU is the largest donor of aid to the Palestinians. Mogherini, who met Thursday in Berlin with Netanyahu, US Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials in an effort to ease tensions in the Middle East, said Monday she is seeking concrete steps that will improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, strengthen the Palestinian Authority and better guarantee Israelis’ security.