Palestinian leader appeals for EU help to end occupation

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.