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Middle East Palestine urges EU recognition as US presses on with Jerusalem move

PALESTINIAN President Mahmoud Abbas urged the foreign ministers of EU countries to officially recognise his country today.

But his appeal came as United States Vice-President Mike Pence repeated Donald Trump’s pledge to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Mr Abbas said official recognition of Palestine “would encourage the Palestinian people to keep hoping for peace and to wait until peace is brought about,” he told a press conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Mr Abbas said Palestine would “continue complying with the treaties that we signed” — and called on Israel to do the same.

That appeared to backtrack on his declaration — backed by a vote of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) central committee — a week earlier that Palestine would withdraw from the 1995 Oslo Accords and cease recognition of the state of Israel.

Ms Mogherini reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestine, saying it is the “only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”

Palestine claims Israeli-occupied — and heavily colonised — East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

In Jerusalem Mr Pence met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed Mr Trump’s declaration last month to recognise Israeli claims to the city.

“The United States has chosen fact over fiction,” he said.

Mr Pence said vowed that a US embassy in Jerusalem “will open before the end of next year.”

PLO executive and veteran peace envoy Hanan Ashrawi called Mr Pence’s claim to seek peace between Israel and Palestine “ludicrous.”

“The Americans cannot talk about the peace process after they have undermined it following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” she told Voice of Palestine radio.

And PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat said Mr Pence’s speech “has proven that the US administration is part of the problem rather than the solution.”

It was unclear why Mr Pence’s speech was considered the final proof, as the US has provided Israel with billions of dollars of military aid each year for decades and staunchly supported Israel’s colonial activity at the United Nations.

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