President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz is trying to bring about a meeting in Brussels between President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The two are staying this week in Brussels and with Rivlin and Abbas set to address the European parliament on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
Schulz asked Rivlin if he would accept an invitation to meet with Abbas to which Rivlin respnded in the affirmative and informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accordingly. Until now, Abbas has not yet responded to such an invitation. In the meantime therefore, the meeting has not been officially scheduled and it is not yet known where or when it would take place.
Abbas and Rivlin were supposed to stay in the same hotel in Brussels for the duration of their trips. However, after these details were reported, Abbas’ entourage moved to another hotel at the last minute.
Rivlin has not met with Abbas since he was inaugurated as president of Israel two years ago but has expressed his desire, on more than one occasion, to do so. The two figures have even spoken on the phone several times. Despite Rivlin's willingness, the President’s Residence has informed that “no meeting has been set.”
Rivlin and his wifelanded on Monday morning in Brussels where he kicked off his trip by being hosted by Prime Minister Charles Michel in his guest house. During their eeting, the two spoke for an hour about strengthening ties between the two countries.
At the conclusion of the meeting Rivlin and Michel made a joint statement in which the former emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the struggle against anti-Semitism and terror. Rivlin told the prime minister: “Israel is concerned by the activities of the BDS movement in your country. BDS is of no importance, but even their small victories can give the wrong impression. We hope that under your leadership, Belgium will say 'no to BDS' and 'yes to peace', 'yes to cooperation.'"
“Today we know that there is a link between anti-Semitism against Jews, and Jihadi terror that kills innocent people of all religions. We must not wait for anti-Semitism to become terror; we must fight it from the beginning, together,” he continued.
Michel praised Rivlin for his visit and for his stances during their meeting before elaborating on its content: “We spoke today about the fight against terror, which stands central to the efforts of our two peoples and of the whole world. We must improve the coordination between our intelligence organizations to ensure that we will succeed in preventing future attacks," he said.
"In addition, we spoke about our shared values, the values of democracy, and the peace process in light of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East. We share in the concern about events in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. One of the issues about which we spoke was that of the refugees which is of concern to both countries.”
The prime minister went on to emphasize that, “I had the opportunity to reaffirm Belgium’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We will fight anti-Semitism with all our strength. This is a shared struggle.”
After his meeting with the Prime Minister, President Rivlin went on to meet King Phillipe of Belgium, with whom he discussed a range of bilateral issues, and spoke of strengthening the relations between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Belgium.