Abbas in Moscow pushes to oust US as Mideast peace broker

Abbas met with Putin in an attempt to find a new Mideast peace broker and to promote Palestinian statehood. 

By: World Israel News and JNS.org

Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Russia and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in an attempt to boost the standing of the PA and garner support for a Palestinian state, in the wake of deteriorating relations between the Palestinians and Washington.

Abbas has refused to have any contact with President Donald Trump’s administration since the American president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas and the PA even boycotted a visit by Vice President Mike Pence in January.

Abbas is now seeking to circumvent the US and achieve recognition of a Palestinian state through the United Nations (UN), while trying to create a multinational body that would serve as an intermediary in the Mideast diplomatic process, instead of the US.

“In this current atmosphere created by the actions of the United States, we declare that starting from now, we refuse to cooperate in any way with the Americans as mediators, as we oppose their actions,” Abbas said at talks with Putin, Russia’s Sputnik news reported.

Abbas sees Russia as an emerging power in the Middle East and hopes that Russia, together with other international powers, can serve as brokers of an arrangement that will deliver a Palestinian state.

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Prior to Abbas’ visit, Palestinian ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal, said on Sunday that Abbas’ visit to Russia “aims to find an impartial broker to lead negotiations with Israel.”

Nofal said that “Abbas announced that for Palestinians, the US is not welcome to play the role of broker because of its bias towards Israel. At the same time, we remain committed to the peace process and wish to resume it and achieve a two-state solution.”

He expressed hope that Russia would play a bigger role in a broader international mechanism, in which the US plays a part but does not lead, in oder to put an end to the escalating crisis, which threatens the entire region.

Abbas’ visit comes just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Abbas in Ramallah as part of the diplomatic campaign to find multinational backers for a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Modi in India last month amid blossoming Israeli-Indian relations.

Egypt Wants US

In the meantime, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during their meeting in Cairo on Monday that the US should revive negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

In an official statement, Egyptian spokesman Bassam Rady said Sisi affirmed Egypt’s “clear and unwavering stance on reaching a fair and comprehensive solution that guarantees the right of Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem in line with the June 1967 borders in accordance with international resolutions.”

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Earlier in the day, Tillerson told reporters after his meeting in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart that the US remains committed to achieve lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.