Last updated: 15 November, 2012

Abbas cuts short Europe trip over Gaza violence

Israel’s massive operation in Gaza has prompted Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to cut short a European trip to seek support for upgraded UN status, an official said Thursday.

“President Abbas decided to cut short his visit to Europe. He will return today to follow the Israeli escalation against Gaza and will do his best to halt it,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

He said Abbas had made contact with both UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the US administration, as well as with European heads of state and Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi to urge their best efforts “to immediately stop the Israeli escalation.”

The Palestinian leader would return to Ramallah later on Thursday and would attend an emergency Arab League summit on the Gaza violence in Cairo on Saturday, he said.

Abbas late Wednesday demanded an immediate halt to a series of Israeli air strikes on Gaza which began with the targeted killing of Hamas military commander Ahmed Jaabari in a strike on a car in Gaza City.

So far, 11 Gazans have been killed and more than 115 wounded in more than 100 Israeli air strikes, as militants have fired more than 180 rockets at Israel, killing three.

“Abbas warned of the seriousness of the Israeli escalation and demanded an immediate end to the aggression,” a statement by the official WAFA Palestinian news agency said.

Abbas is planning to submit a request to the UN General Assembly on November 29 seeking to upgrade the Palestinians’ status from that of an observer entity to an observer state in a move which is fiercely opposed by Israel and Washington.