Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas strongly criticized Israel during his Thursday address to the European Parliament in Belgium but stressed that his hands were outstretched for peace.
Abbas said Israel is growing more extreme, both in terms of the settlers and the IDF, which he said carries out "unlawful killings." He also said that "this extremism has led to Israeli politicians like Herzog, Ya'alon and Barak and other members of the media to criticize the government." He further cited their statements as indications that Israel is acting in a fascist manner.
Abbas, who was applauded after his address said, "the non-existence of a Palestinian state and the non-implementation of the two-state solution prolongs the conflict and produces extremism. We are against international terror, and the way to have the terror you face come to an end, you must bring an end to the Israeli occupation."
He turned to the Israeli people, to the government and Israeli political parties in Israel and said, "Our hands are extended for peace and we have the will and fierce determination to achieve peace. But are your hands outstretched for peace? Are you willing to recognize the historical injustice?"
"We oppose any suggestion of temporary borders or an interim agreement because it's a waste of time that doesn’t lead anywhere," he told European lawmakers.
"We favor a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, and the solution will be based on the Arab Peace Initiative that was that was approved in 2002 with no changes to it," he added.
"Isn't that clear incitement to commit mass killings against the Palestinian people?"
He expressed his expectation that the international community would renew its efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, adding that he hoped that the Paris conference earlier this month "will ripen into an international conference."
Meanwhile, Rivlin responded to Mahmoud Abbas's comments at the end of his statements.
"It is surprising in light of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas refuses again and again to meet with the Israeli leadership. We can't build trust between us if we don't begin to speak to each other directly, without mediators."
The Israeli president was speaking at the end of an official visit to Belgium with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
"As you already know, a big part of my job is to build bridges between Jews and Arabs, and to promote equality for all of the citizens of Israel," Rivlin told them. "The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a huge tragedy, and it's our responsibility and our will to build bridges of trust between the two nations."
"Even if we can't come to a stable agreement now, we need to work to build trust between all of the sides. Under this trust-building framework, we need to promote the bilateral negotiations between us and the Palestinians. Direct negotiations are the only possible way to build trust and to restore the conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he continued.
"There are no shortcuts or detours in the Middle East," he noted.
Rivlin continued, saying that he was surprised by the fact that Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly refuses to meet with the Israeli leadership, "and because he chooses to turn again and again to the international community to gain support."
Rivlin then took the opportunity to say remind his listners, "I accepted the EU initiative to hold a meeting between myself and Abbas in Brussels with pleasure. I'm sorry to say however, that the meeting was rejected (by Abbas)."
Turning to the issue of terrorism, Rivlin said, "We in Israel have been living with unending terror for a year. We are very worried about the state of the Middle East – Syria, Iraq, ISIS, and the role played by the Iranian regime in supporting terrorism and instability."
"My European friends," Rivlin concluded, "We can't agree on everything. But as friends and allies, I am calling on you all, to please respect the considerations of the state of Israel, even when they're different to yours. Respect Israel's sovereignty, the democratic way in which we reach our decisions, and above all, our job in defending our citizens."