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Abbas at EU to discuss surging Israeli-Palestinian violence

Abbas said recent tensions stem from hopelessness among Palestinian youth, who have lived under Israeli occupation their whole lives
Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces near the Israeli border at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on 23 October (AFP)

The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Monday to discuss "concrete steps" to calm the surge of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.  

"We have a meeting tonight to discuss the ways EU can contribute to a de-escalation," Mogherini said in brief comments before a working dinner. 

The EU's diplomatic chief said she hoped the pair would discuss "concrete steps on the ground, including difficult ones that can strengthen the Palestinians on an everyday basis".

The European Commission is the biggest provider of financial aid to the Palestinians, providing more than 5.6bn euros ($6.19bn) to Abbas' Palestinian Authority (PA) since 1994.

Mogherini, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, admitted there was "a certain degree of frustration" in Europe over the peace process. The latest talks collapsed in April 2014 amid bitter recriminations.

Abbas repeated his criticism of what he said was Israel's "non-respect" for the rules at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, which is at the centre of the recent wave of violence.

"The situation in Palestine is extremely serious and grave and may even deteriorate. This is my fear," he said.

"The main reason is the feeling of disappointment (among) the young generation," who feel there is "no hope," Abbas said.

The meeting between Abbas and Mogherini preceded further Israeli air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, following reports of rocket fire entering Israeli territory from Gaza, reported Maan News Agency.

Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner said earlier this month that Israeli forces held Hamas responsible for any "act of aggression" from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians accuse Israel of seeking to change the rules that allow Jews to visit at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but not to pray there. Israel denies it has violated the status quo.

Stabbings and violent protests have become daily occurrences since simmering tensions over the compound boiled over in early October, leaving scores dead.

Abbas urged a revival of peace negotiations, calling for Israel to first halt settlement-building in the West Bank and prevent "incursions" on the compound.