In a harsh exchange, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a blood libel on Thursday, in advance of his trip to Rome on Sunday to look for new ways to kick-start the diplomatic process.
Despite Netanyahu’s upcoming push, prospects for peace looked dim after Abbas refused to meet with President Reuven Rivlin as they both visited Brussels this week.
“Someone who refuses to meet the president and prime minister for direct negotiations, and who spreads a blood libel in the European parliament, is lying when he says his hand is outstretched in peace,” a statement issued immediately by the Prime Minister’s Office PMO said.
In his speech to the parliament on Thursday, Abbas accused certain rabbis of calling to poison Palestinian water wells. He also said that ending the “Israeli occupation” would stop global terrorism, which is fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In response, the Netanyahu said that Abbas had exposed his “true face. Israel is waiting for the day when Abu Mazen [Abbas] will stop spreading lies and incitement. Until then, Israel will continue to defend itself against Palestinian incitement that causes terrorism.”
The PMO’s statement ended two-days of European pageantry in Brussels, which almost looked like it had been set up as a staging ground for an historic breakthrough in the peace process, frozen since April 20014 Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Sunday evening with US Secretary of State John Kerry and again the next day before flying back to Israel. He is also scheduled to meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and possibly with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
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