Russia has been active in recent years in relation to the Palestinian crisis. Russian Foreign Ministry envoy on the Palestinian cause Vladimir Safronkov in talks with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Palestinian and Israeli Affairs, Hady Amr, announced his readiness to promote peace in West Asia and put an end to the Palestinian crisis. The United States has apparently welcomed the resumption of full participation in the Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations) and supports strengthening of bilateral talks on the Middle East peace issues. The Russian side emphasizes the importance of efforts to create the conditions for the immediate resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks mediated by the Quartet, based on the mechanism of the two states and peaceful coexistence. The two sides reaffirm their mutual commitment to working constructively to advance the Middle East peace process. A quadripartite committee consisting of Germany, Jordan, Egypt and France was formed on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in February last year to revive the reconciliation process between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which had stalled for several years following intensification of the settlement activities of the Zionist regime.
Following the 14th meeting of the Palestinian Movement in Egypt with an aim of coordinating mechanisms for holding stage elections in May and August and the process for the establish of unity among the leading Palestinian political factions, Russia considers such a meeting as an important condition for holding direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, resolution of fundamental issues related to the final situation, comprehensive and long-term solution of the Middle East problems, and improvement of socio-economic conditions on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During a recent meeting in Cairo, the 14 Palestinian groups recently stressed the need for elections as a means of bridging the Palestinian political divide and realizing national reconciliation. Russia is after the return of unity and solidarity among the Palestinians (Palestinian groups) and is ready to do whatever is necessary to resolve the internal Palestinian dispute, because resolving the dispute and ending the rift between the Palestinians is an important factor in fulfilling the demands of the Palestinian people.
Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, discussed the renewed realization of Palestinian national unity in a telephone conversation and examined the preparations for the meeting of Palestinian resistance groups in Cairo and its importance in establishing Palestinian national unity and reconciliation with treading on a specific political path to put an end the occupation. Holding of three elections for the parliament, presidency of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian National Council with an aim of rebuilding the political system based on political participation within the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization have been other topics of the discussion. The Palestinian side outlined views of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front on issues placed on the agenda of the national dialogue in Cairo and stressed the importance of Russia’s role in the Middle East and its support for the Palestinian cause.
Recently, a high-level delegation from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, led by Ziad al-Nakhalah, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials and talk about the latest developments in Palestine. In another initiative, a Hamas Movement delegation led by Mousa Abu Marzook, head of the movement’s international relations office, met in Moscow with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and special envoy of the Russian president for the Middle East and Africa, to discuss reconciliation among Palestinian groups, holding of the Palestinian elections, election of the Legislative Council, presidency of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian National Council, and details of Hamas position. The parties believed that the success of efforts to resolve this issue should lead to a just settlement of the Palestinian issue in accordance with existing international law, UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to hold a meeting between representatives of Fatah and Hamas and other political forces in order to strengthen the process of political unity, in coordination with Cairo.
Russia hopes that the differences between Palestinian factions will be resolved gradually. According to Moscow, this measure has been made through the efforts of foreign players and Arab countries, especially Egypt. Russia will also play its role in establishing reconciliation in Palestine. At the same time, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) political bureau Kaid al-Ghoul believes that a meeting of Palestinian groups in Moscow is not a substitute for the Cairo talks. According to him, Russia plays a positive role in bringing Palestinian groups closer together. The main authority for the upcoming elections in Palestine should include withdrawal from all agreements with Tel Aviv, such as the Oslo Accords, and the elections should not become a tool to aggravate the current situation, rather should be an opportunity to build a national plan.
Within this context, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while welcoming the normalization of Israeli relations with a number of Arab countries, believes that this issue should not be used in order to forget establishment of a Palestinian state. From Moscow’s point of view, “the group of four” international mediators, with the cooperation of the league of Arab states, can play a very important role in establishing direct talks between Palestine and Israel on the basis of UN decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Lavrov claims that there are events that affect the conditions for direct talks. Early parliamentary elections will be held in Israel in March, based on the results of which it can be said whether the Israelis are ready to consider the offer of direct talks. For the Group of Four international mediators to play their role completely, it is necessary to wait for the completion of the US administration and identification of the approaches of the new leaders of that country on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It will then be clear what positions the “Group of Four” will take in its updated lineup. Those approaches should be in line with the resolution of this issue based on the principles of the two governments.
From Russia’s point of view, normalization of Israel’s relations with Arab countries is accelerating, and this is a positive phenomenon that resolves old contradictions and creates communication channels based on legal methods. Russia advocates establishment of an independent Palestinian state and peaceful coexistence with Israel in peace and security in accordance with UN resolutions. It supports dialogue among Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan with Israel for direct Palestinian-Israeli talks. Moscow’s ultimate goal is complete normalization of the situation in the region and establishment of the state of Palestine and forging friendly relations between Israel and all the countries of the Middle East which does not correspond to the realities on the ground.