11:02 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Israeli national flag flying next to an Israeli building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

    Palestine Will Reject US as Unilateral Mediator in MidEast Peace Talks – Envoy

    © AFP 2019 / Ahmad Gharabli
    Middle East
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Palestine can consider the United States as a mediator in the talks on resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict only as part of a Russian-US peace initiative or as a member of the Middle East Quartet, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Sputnik on Friday.

    "We refuse the American plan and its mediation. During the meeting with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas informed that Palestine refused the unilateral American initiative. If we are going to start negotiations, and we are ready to launch them starting from tomorrow, we insist on a new mediation partner. We believe that either the Quartet, or Russia and the United States together should lead this round of negotiations," Nofal said.

    The diplomat noted that Israel was intentionally avoiding any possibility for the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet since 2016, when Russia came up with a proposal to arrange a summit for the first time.

    "Since 2016, when Russia came up with the initiative to arrange a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu, Israel was doing everything to avoid it. The FIFA World Cup final was another possible meeting ground, but Netanyahu [only] came for semifinal to avoid [the possible meeting]," he said.

    Israeli media reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down Russia’s offer to host a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as he wanted to let the White House reveal its long-awaited Middle East peace plan first.

    READ MORE: US Blocks Russia’s UN Motion on Palestinian Peace

    During his presidential campaign and after becoming US president, Donald Trump promised to take steps toward settling the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

    Among the measures taken was ordering White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Greenblatt to focus on the Middle East conflict, and to work out a plan that could bring peace to the region. The plan has not been revealed yet.

    The Middle East settlement process took a hit last December when the United States decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The move was condemned by Arab states and has been rejected by European states. Palestine responded by refusing to let the United States remain the primary mediator in peace talks with Israel.


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