Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is appealing to the European Union for help to end Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and support for a lasting peace agreement.

Abbas said to EU lawmakers on Thursday: "You are our friends, help us." He said that "Israel has turned our country into an open-air prison."

Abbas said the occupation was only encouraging extremists and fomenting terrorism.

To the applause of lawmakers he said: "Why is international law not being applied in the case of Israel?"

The EU has promised an "unprecedented package" of political and economic support to both sides should they reach a final agreement, amid a new European push to help end the long-running conflict.

Later Thursday, Israel President Reuven Rivlin was meeting with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.