On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah and the hard-line Islamic movement Hamas, in control of the Gaza Strip since last June, signed a declaration stipulating that the two parties agreed in principle to forge a new national unity government and set up security forces supporting the government rather than factions.
The move followed five days of talks in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, where the parties managed to agree in general, but failed to reach agreement on power-sharing issues.
"Moscow sees the confirmation of Fatah and Hamas' aspiration for the resumption of Palestinian unity as an important move worth backing," the statement said.
During his recent Mideast trip, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia actively supported talks to restore Palestinian unity. "The absence of Palestinian unity prevents steps toward peace in the region," he said on March 21.
According to press reports, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who paid a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in an attempt to boost peace talks, said on Monday he did not think Fatah was ready to reconcile with Hamas until the latter gives up control of Gaza.
The West Bank is controlled by Abbas and receives financial assistance from the West, while the Gaza Strip is fully isolated and is boycotted by the Palestinian National Administration, the U.S. and Israel.
Any move by Fatah to enter into a power-sharing deal with Hamas would be almost likely to see the movement 'tainted' by association with the radical Islamic group, and on Monday top aides to Abbas distanced themselves from the reconciliation plan, with one saying the document had only been signed because of a 'mix-up.'