Abbas says peace talks with Israel in crisis
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said peace talks with Israel were in crisis on Wednesday after Washington abandoned attempts to persuade Israel to slow West Bank settlement activity.
"A tough crisis exists," Abbas said in Arabic, after a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou, DPA reports.
The Palestinians had demanded the freeze of West Bank settlements in exchange for engaging in direct talks that were supposed to lead to a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel.
But Washington has since abandoned attempts to persuade Israel to slow West Bank settlement activity. It was hoped that the deal would lead to a broader Middle East peace accord.
Abbas said the Palestinian Authority is moving in two directions: "the first is the political process and the second is national reconciliation, because any solution that arises in the future cannot be applied if there is no agreement and conciliation."
"We are committed to this political roadmap," Abbas said, adding that the Israeli military forces must be withdrawn.
Abbas said he hoped the European Union would get involved in relaunching the negotiations.
"We hope that the time will soon come when the EU will play a role alongside the United States."
Papandreou said Greece will undertake an initiative for the creation of a regional firefighting force in the eastern Mediterranean, in agreement with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Greek prime minister said Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Russia would also be invited to join.
Papandreou cited the recent cooperation between Greece and Israel in fighting wildfires as an example for future cooperation in the region.
A major wildfire in Israel last week claimed 41 lives