In Moscow’s point of view, the “quartet group” is the most effective multilateral mechanism to support the settlement of Middle East issues, as adopted by a UN Security Council resolution. Moscow hopes to do so through the quartet group and within the framework of the group’s engagement with the League of Arab States.
The Palestinians hope to meet in Moscow at the end of this year with the participation of 20 to 25 countries, including three to five from Europe, Japan, Arab countries, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and countries with good relations with Israel. Otherwise, the “difficult circumstances” of deciding on the date and location for hosting the “Quartet” meeting on the Middle East peace will approach. The quartet will decide on the date and timing of the conference.
From Moscow’s point of view, holding a quadripartite meeting at the ministerial level is crucial in resuming efforts to implement decisions related to the two-state principle. Russia, which has ideas for resuming the Middle East peace talks, is concerned about lack of lasting agreement on how to resume the peace process and the peace talks. Russia believes that implementation of UN Security Council resolutions after the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Accords (Oslo-1 and Oslo-2) is highly essential. This requires a direct dialogue and resumption of the negotiation process
Concerned about escalation of the situation in East Jerusalem and around the Gaza Strip, Moscow believes that immediate de-escalation, in the interests of the Palestinians and Israelis, is necessary, and that it seeks to achieve this goal by using its relations with the parties and other countries of the region and as a member of the quartet group. According to Russia, normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states should not neglect international attention to the Palestinian issue.
Moscow, during the recent violence around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, has also strongly condemned the use of military force against Palestinian civilians, and expects the parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the violence or worsen the situation. From Moscow’s point of view, such a move is against international law and an obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the situation, based on the existence of the two independent Palestinian and Israeli states on the internationally recognized borders in 1967 and establishment of peace and security for all the people residing in that region. It is anticipated that in the UN Secretary-General visit to Moscow to coordinate the meeting, recent events will be discussed in the talks between Lavrov and Guterres.
Russia emphasizes in Article 92 of its foreign policy strategy document, adopted in November 2016 that it will pursue the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of international law. Russia does not want to lose its pivotal opportunity on the Palestinian issue after the United States took unilateral action in Israel’s interests. It appears that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not work under the US peace process after Trump announced the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, and has called on Russia and several organizations to accept a role in the peace process, Moscow has increased relations with Palestine. Russia knows that the issue of Palestine is always of concern to Muslims. On the one hand, Russia will take advantage of its presence in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as an observer member to develop relations with Islamic countries, and Russia’s orientation in favor of Israel will break this bond. Putin’s main foreign policy goal in recent years has been to bring Russia back to the “highest level of world and Middle East policy”.
Russia’s relations with the Middle East have a long history. Russia and the nations of the region have long had various economic, cultural and emotional ties. Those ties have made Russia one of the key players in the Middle East, especially in resolving the region’s conflicts and challenges. Middle Eastern countries, on the other hand, have always had relative confidence in Russia and its foreign policy. Russia’s neutral and prudent stance, which seeks to resolve the Middle East issues in accordance with the principles of international law, is of particular value to countries of the region, including Palestine. Russia supports creation of an independent Palestinian state, which is not to the satisfaction of the Israelis.
Russia believes that Jerusalem should be divided into eastern and western parts, with Israel ruling in the western part and Palestine in the eastern part. After the Trump administration called Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Russia explicitly declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Moscow has always emphasized its position on the illegality of the Israeli regime’s settlement in the Palestinian territories, stating that those illegal actions reduce the possibility of a just peace and establishment of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Russia is committed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on UN Security Council resolutions and the principle of the creation of two independent states, and emphasizes the parties’ respect for the UN General Assembly resolutions and the international community’s efforts for the establishment of the two states. Russia supports the dialogue of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan with Israel for the direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
Russia has always been sensitive to the Russians outside its borders. Russia cannot be indifferent to this population. Israel has expanded its relations with Moscow in recent years. Russia, which has been sanctioned by the West, is trying to use its role as mediator and more explicit support for Palestine, if necessary, by moving closer to the Middle East and Israel. Of course, Russia-Israel relations will continue with a dual friendly (not strategic) relationship with serious differences on some regional issues. Perhaps the best option is Russia’s presence as a neutral mediator. Israel, still America’s main ally, will never allow those relations to reach a level that worries Washington, but it wants to build diverse regional and international relations, but has no interest in replacing its core strategic partner.