European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday as part of her 24-hour trip to the Middle-East.
Mogherini, who is scheduled to meet with a number of Palestinian and Israeli officials, is visiting the region as part of the EU’s efforts to revive the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was also present during the meeting, told reporters after the meeting that President Abbas reaffirmed his commitment to the two-state solution, which would see Israel withdraw from illegally occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem back to its pre-1967 borders.
President Abbas also told Mogherini that “Israel must halt all settlement building and accept a two-state formula," while accusing Israel of violating the rights of both Muslims and Christians to Jerusalem.
On her part, Mogherini said the EU was also committed to the peace process and the Palestinian right to an independent state.
Mogherini, who is paying her first visit to the region since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu merged Israel’s new governing coalition after winning a fourth term in power in March, will travel to Jerusalem later on Wednesday evening to meet Netanyahu.
A European diplomatic source was quoted by AFP saying Mogherini will discuss the negotiations with Netanyahu during their meeting. "She wants to test the ground after the formation of the new Israeli government to see what the Europeans can do. She wants to see what can be done," the source said.
She will then visit President Reuven Rivlin and Israeli opposition Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog on Thursday.
Peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians were stalled last year after the Fatah authorities in the West Bank and Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip formed a unity government in response to continued Jewish settlement building on illegally occupied land by Israel.
A bloody onslaught on Gaza erupted just a few months later, resulting in the deaths of around 2,200 Palestinians, at least 66 percent of whom were civilians. Meanwhile, 72 Israelis, mainly soldiers, were also killed.
The cause for the recognition of Palestine was furthered when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to prevent the establishment of the State of Palestine during his pre-election campaign.
His vow frustrated a number of countries, including Israel’s main ally the US, with President Barack Obama saying Washington may “re-assess” its relationship with Israel after Netanyahu’s words threatened to jeopardise the ongoing peace process for a two-state solution.