Abbas Heads to Europe to Push for Settlement Freeze



Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas headed for Europe on Monday on a mission to increase international pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction.

According to Maariv newspaper, Abbas' trip will take him to Germany, Italy and Belgium, where he will meet with heads of state and push for them to increase pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank.

Sources in the PA told Maariv that Abbas set up the European trip in response to the Israeli calls to cut off the US-brokered peace talks and rethink the prisoner releases.

The newspaper added that Abu Mazen "Abbas" and the Palestinian leadership hear the opinions in Israel that are talking about the possibility of freezing the talks because of recent events, and they are already preparing an alternative plan — appealing to the United Nations institutes with the goal of winning international recognition for Palestinian state."

The newspaper also added that Abbas was going to Europe to ask for financial aid amid a fiscal crisis in the PA.

Abbas will also stresses during his trip that he is determined to continue talks with Israel; although he will tell the European leaders there has been no significant progress so far.

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