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BRUSSELS – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas came to European Union headquarters Monday to seek the bloc's help to de-escalate the crisis with Israel, which he blamed on policies and actions of the Israeli government.
Before opening the talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Abbas told reporters the situation was "extremely serious and grave."
Abbas added, "it may even deteriorate, and that is my fear."
There have been almost daily Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. In the past five weeks, 10 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, while 51 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 30 said by Israel to be attackers and the rest in clashes.
Abbas said one cause of the flare-up is Israel's refusal to honor an arrangement dating back to 1875 governing a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem that is revered by both Jews and Muslims.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adamantly denied such allegations, saying they amount to incitement to violence.
Another cause for the outburst of violence, Abbas said, were killings and attacks on Palestinians he said have been carried out by armed West Bank settlers "protected by the Israeli army."
Young Palestinians, he said, "basically don't see any hope" now for a better future.
"We look forward to an independent state of Palestine living side by side with the state of Israel," Abbas said. "Hopefully, all of the international community will work hard to make it materialize."
The EU is the largest donor of aid to the Palestinians. Mogherini, who met Thursday in Berlin with Netanyahu, Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials in an effort to ease tensions in the Middle East, said Monday she is seeking concrete steps that will improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, strengthen the Palestinian Authority and better guarantee Israelis' security.