(JTA) – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declined to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin while the two leaders were in Brussels, according to the president of the European Parliament.
Martin Schultz, the parliament’s president, had offered to arrange and mediate the meeting while both Abbas and Rivlin were at the European Union (EU) to speak to the parliament and meet with EU officials.
Schultz had suggested the meeting earlier in the week, and on Wednesday told reporters during a joint news conference with Rivlin that he still hoped to arrange one.
“Don’t worry, I won’t run away,” Rivlin had responded.
On Thursday morning, Schultz told Rivlin that Abbas had refused the meeting, the Israeli media reported, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official.
Abbas’ office told Haaretz that no meeting had been planned with Rivlin.
In a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday, Abbas blamed global terror on Israel’s control of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
“Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” Abbas asserted.
He also reiterated PA support for a two-state solution based on the recent French peace initiative and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.
Also in his speech, in off-the-cuff remarks that do not appear in the PA’s official transcript, Abbas accused Israeli rabbis of calling for the poisoning of Palestinian water, a medieval anti-Semitic libel, Reuters reported. Reuters and other news sources could not verify that such a call took place, and the group that Abbas’ office cited as having provided the information denied providing such information.
In his speech to the parliament on Wednesday, Rivlin rejected the French peace initiative, saying it “suffers from fundamental faults.”
“The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it,” he said.