TEL AVIV – Amid sharp objections from the Palestinian leadership, the European Union on Sunday supported United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov’s efforts to reach a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.
The move highlights the growing distance between the Palestinian Authority and Europe, which hitherto was one of the most ardent supporters of the Palestinian cause.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah refused to see Mladenov last week, a PLO official said.
“The cycle of violence leads only to more violence and deprives entire generations from the legitimate aspiration to live in peace and free to build their own future. Only a political solution can put an end to the violence,” an EU statement said on the ongoing unrest in the Gaza Strip.
“In this context, the European Union strongly appreciates and fully supports the efforts of the United Nation’s Special Coordinator who has been working closely together with all parties and with the international community to get a political process going again in Gaza,” it said.
“The EU representative asked to bring Mladenov to a meeting with Prime Minister Hamdallah last week,” Ahmad Majdalani, a PLO Executive Committee member told the Times of Israel, in reference to Ralph Tarraf, the European Union’s envoy in Jerusalem. “The prime minister refused to receive Mladenov.”
“Mladenov has stepped outside of his role, which is to work on the peace process, not making peace between Hamas and Israel,” he said. “We will still work with other UN officials, but we will not meet with Mladenov or his office. The problem is specifically with him.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday came to Mladenov’s defense, saying he “fully supports” the special coordinator’s “tireless” efforts in brokering a ceasefire.
Last week, Mladenov, with Israel’s help, facilitated the transfer of Qatari-funded fuel to the Gaza Strip, which is beleaguered with power cuts.
A PA official claimed that the move was tantamount to Qatar funding Hamas. The PA also said that Israel’s role constituted a tacit recognition of the terror group.
“When Qatar pays for the fuel, Hamas in Gaza will collect the bills and put it in its pocket, and this is an indirect financial aid to Hamas,” said a PA official.
Mladenov was also accused of working for the Trump administration.
“He is a servant of the American administration,” Majed Fityani, the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told official PA TV earlier this month. “He should … not be intervening in internal affairs. It is not his right or mandate to interfere, but he puts his nose in everything.”
Fityani also said the envoy’s days in the region were over.
“I believe that Mr. Mladenov is no longer an honest broker in this process,” he said. “As far as we are concerned as Palestinians, Mladenov’s mission has ended. He should spend the rest of his time as the envoy of the UN secretary-general on vacation with his Israeli friends or traveling at the expense of Trump or those who fund this moral and political digression, in which he has drowned.”
Last month, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad slammed Mladenov for “intervening in [matters] outside of the framework of his duties.”
Ahmad also said that he “believes Mladenov has been a supporter of Israel since he was the Bulgarian foreign minister.”
Mladenov previously served as Bulgarian foreign minister.