Russian foreign minister pushes for Palestinian state in meeting with UAE counterpart

“Normalization between Israel and the Arab states does not mean a resolution to the Palestinian issue must become a second priority,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday in Moscow that despite Israel’s new normalization agreements with Arab nations, the world should still focus on ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Our ultimate goal is the achievement of full normalization in the Middle East, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the establishment of ties between Israel and all of the countries in the region,” Lavrov told Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan in a meeting.

“Normalization between Israel and the Arab states does not mean a resolution to the Palestinian issue must become a second priority.”

Moscow has pushed for the resumption of negotiations via the “quartet” – a group of international actors serving as mediators. They included Russia, the U.S., the UN and the EU.

Lavrov suggested that a new quartet be comprised of four Arab nations – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia does not officially maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, but media reports indicate that the Gulf nation may recognize Israel in the near future.

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“We are united in our opinion with the United Arab Emirates on the Palestinian issue. The normalization of Israel’s ties with Arab states is gaining steam. Overall, this is of course a positive phenomenon because it eliminates long-standing disputes and establishes channels of cultural and legal communication,” Lavrov added.

Russia appears to want to keep Arab pressure on Israel despite warming ties in the region.

Last week, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov told The Jerusalem Post, “Israel is attacking Hezbollah; Hezbollah is not attacking Israel.”

He added that “the problem in the region is not Iranian activities,” but that the primary source of conflict in the Middle East is “noncompliance with UN resolutions in the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

His statements fly in the face of those by Trump administration senior figures, who have pointed out that the recent peace deals happened because the administration chose to ignore long-held assumptions that peace would only be possible between Israel and Arab states once the Israel-Palestinian conflict was solved.