Ashton urges reconciliation in talks with Abbas
Published Friday 25/10/2013 (updated) 25/10/2013 21:04
President Mahmoud Abbas is pictured during a meeting in Vilnius
on Oct. 22, 2013 (AFP/File Petras Malukas)
BRUSSELS (AFP) -- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday called for the end of divisions between Palestinians, in talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.
A statement from Ashton's office said she reaffirmed support for Palestinian state-building and the need for Palestinians to reconcile "as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution."
Hamas and its rival Fatah, Abbas' party that dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, have been at odds since Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Since signing an Egyptian-brokered deal in 2011 they have been attempting to heal their rifts.
The Cairo deal pledged to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within 12 months.
But the implementation of the accords has stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal intended to overcome differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.
During talks with EU leaders on Wednesday, Abbas urged European and other foreign companies not to deal with businesses based in Jewish settlements.
Abbas said a boycott would not be aimed at the state of Israel but only targeted at Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A UN rights expert has singled out several major international firms -- including Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Veolia, G4S and Volvo Group -- for their involvement in building and maintaining settlements.
Several European retail giants also import produce from the West Bank, which is home to large farms producing fruit, vegetable and flowers.