A European Union official says criticism of the Palestinian President by Israel's foreign minister is "not helpful," as it harms prospects for renewed negotiations between the two parties.

Israel's Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas is an "obstacle" to peace "that needs to be removed."

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic on Tuesday said that the remarks "are regrettably not helpful to create the environment of trust conducive to negotiations."

She recalled that the so-called Mideast Quartet _ the EU, United States, Russia and United Nations _ had asked the two parties to "refrain from provocative actions."

Kocijancic said the EU valued Abbas's role as a leader committed to a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.