Netanyahu, Abbas shake hands in first encounter in five years

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands Monday at a global climate conference in Paris at their first meeting in five years.

The handshake occurred after two months of the worst street violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories in years and the collapse of the peace process 18 months ago.

Netanyahu and Abbas were made to stand near each other during a joint portrait of world leaders at the summit.

Netanyahu also met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on the sidelines of the summit amid a row between Israel and the 28-member European Union over the bloc’s decision to label products made by Israelis in the occupied territories as not coming from Israel.

Netanyahu has slammed the November 11 guidelines as “hypocritical” and said the EU “should be ashamed” of itself because, he said, it was “singling out Israel and not the 200 other conflicts in the world.”

Palestinian leaders and groups praised the bloc for finally taking “concrete action” against Israeli settlements.

Israel on Sunday announced it was suspending the EU’s role in the stalled peace process in anger over the labelling guidelines. The bloc is a member of the so-called Quartet of international mediators along with the United States, United Nations and Russia.

Mogherini told Netanyahu the labelling guidelines were not new legislation but implementation of existing legislation.

“So there is no great change from the EU perspective, and there is EU unity on this,” her spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said in Brussels.

“What I can also tell you is that the EU-Israel relations are good, broad and deep, and this will continue,” she said.

The bloc would continue its work within the Quartet and with both Israel and the Palestinians, Kocijancic said.

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