Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned down offers to meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, rebuffing attempts by European Union leaders to bring the two together.
On Wednesday, EU President Martin Schultz urged the Abbas and Rivlin to meet, even briefly, while the two visited the European Parliament in Brussels.
While the Israeli President accepted the offer, on Thursday Abbas said he would not meet with Rivlin.
Both presidents are visiting the European Union capital to meet with the EU’s Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini and address the EU parliament.
Rivlin spoke before the EU legislature on Wednesday, and is scheduled to meet with Mogherini on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu green-lighted Rivlin’s meeting with Abbas, in keeping with his pledge in April to conduct talks with the Palestinian Authority leader “at any time”.
Israeli leaders have long sought direct bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Abbas, however, has called upon Israel to accept pre-conditions to talks and has favored multi-party talks over one-on-one negotiations.
Abbas has endorsed the French intiative, which calls for a regional peace summit later this year. Earlier this month a preliminary meeting organized by France adopted a Joint Communique, which lays out the framework for high level negotiations aimed at achieving a final status agreement by year’s end.
On Wednesday, Rivlin decried the French initiative, calling it a “flawed” proposal that consituted “negotiations for the sake of negotiations”.