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    Abbas: Russia Should Play First Fiddle in Israeli-Palestinian Settlement

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    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Standoff Continues (463)
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    Moscow should use its experience in resolving international conflicts and help revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process jeopardized by Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova – Russia should use its positive experience in resolving the Iran nuclear issue and the Syrian crisis to help revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, told Sputnik in an interview.

    “It is clear that Russia’s role took a new proactive dimension in the Middle East since its important engagement in the Iran nuclear negotiations that was successfully concluded, and in the Syrian crisis where we hope it will help to restore peace and stability,” Abbas said in English.

    “From here we wish to see this dynamic in the Russian foreign policy extended to the peace process between the Israelis and us,” he stressed.

    On Tuesday, Abbas left for a two-week international tour that will see him visit Turkey, France, Russia, Germany and the United States. Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Sputnik last week that Abbas was scheduled to arrive in Moscow on April 17 to meet with President Vladimir Putin the following day.

    “The quartet led by the United States did not succeed to achieve progress because of the Israeli government rejection to its efforts. This situation is imposing the need of new multilateral approach, where Russia should have a central role, and which will allow other Arab and European partners to participate in new and effective mechanism with timetable and references and international conference similar to other international groups that achieved progress in Iran, Syria and other conflicts,” Abbas said.

    The Quartet, comprising Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, was established in 2002 with the aim to mediate the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    "We have a continuous cooperation and coordination at all level including between president Putin and myself, we meet regularly and share views on different matters, mainly the question of the peace process and the way Russia could help to ending the Israeli occupation and the achievement of a just and lasting peace. Russia has a key role in this matter and we wish for it to be more visible," Abbas said.

    "We also discuss the very difficult situation in the Middle East and try to see what we can do together in order to find political solutions to the ongoing problems," he added.

    Netanyahu Wants to "Destroy Two-State Solution"

    “Policies and practices of the government of Israel and the dramatic facts on the ground due to the ongoing confiscation of our land, building of more settlements and the demolition of Palestinian houses, leave no doubts about Netanyahu’s commitment to destroy the two state-solution,” Abbas said.

    The Palestinian leader reiterated that he was ready to engage in negotiations with Netanyahu any time to ensure a lasting solution to the decades-long conflict.

    “I am always ready to meet Mr. Netanyahu in order to engage in serious and meaningful negotiations that will lead to the end of the occupation and to a lasting peace that will ensure freedom for our people and state,” Abbas added.

    Abbas Hopes French Plan for Israel-Palestine Conference to Yield New Settlement Mechanism

    Palestine highly appreciates the French initiative on holding an international peace conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which should provide a new mechanism to settle the crisis and that sees Russia playing a key role in the process, Mahmoud Abbas told Sputnik.

    In late January, then-French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius outlined plans to arrange an international conference in the coming months to help resume the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks. He stressed that France would be prepared to recognize Palestinian statehood if the talks yielded no results.

    “We highly appreciate the French initiative to hold an international conference, it is time for the international community to renew its efforts to achieve a final peace,” Abbas said in English.

    “The French are engaged nowadays  in consultations with all concerned regional and international parties in order to finalize the details for this conference. From our side we need this initiative to be the starter for a new multilateral process with a new mechanism where Russia should play a central role, and that will allow practical steps toward ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just peace,” Abbas added.

    Abbas Hopes for Swift Implementation of UNHRC Resolutions on Israel Settlements

    Palestine hopes that the United Nations and its member states will soon implement recent resolutions on illegal Israeli settlements, which were recently adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Mahmoud Abbas told Sputnik.

    "The government of Palestine via the ministry of Foreign Affairs and our mission in Geneva are following closely this matter with the UN and we hope for the resolutions to be implemented soon by both the UN and its member states. I here want to reiterate that settlements are illegal and considered as a war crime under international law," Abbas said.

    Four resolutions were adopted in March by the UNHRC dealing with settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Syrian region of the Golan Heights.

    The Palestinian leader mentioned in particular the motion envisioning the establishment of a database of all entities operating with or in Israeli settlements.

    "The importance of the mentioned resolution is that it has practical aspects with regard to the listing of companies working in or with Israeli settlements in Palestine," Abbas said.

    Abbas Hopes to See Progress in Forming Hamas-Fatah Gov't, Holding Elections

    Palestine hopes to soon see progress in the formation of Hamas-Fatah government and holding elections in order to focus on settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mahmoud Abbas told Sputnik.

    Over the years, the Hamas movement and the Fatah movement, headed by Abbas and recognized by a wide majority of UN member states as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, have met several times in Qatar, Cairo and Gaza and signed several reconciliation deals. Hamas, which had de-facto control over the Gaza Strip, and Fatah formed a unity government in 2014, but as intra-Palestinian relations remained strained the unity government resigned in June 2015.

    "Meetings in Cairo and Doha are focusing in achieving an agreement to form a unity government and go for elections immediately. We hope to see progress soon," Abbas said.

    He noted that intra-Palestinian reconciliation was a "top priority" in order to work on settling a conflict with Israel.

    "Reconciliation is a top priority on our agenda, we want to achieve our unity as soon as possible to be able to focus on the only real priority which is to end the Israeli occupation and reach peace," the leader said.

    Fatah was the dominating party in Palestine until Hamas arose as a resistance movement against Israeli occupation in 1987. In 2007, a deadly conflict between Fatah and Hamas led to the split of the Palestinian Authority and the latter taking over the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinians seek the recognition of their independent state, proclaimed in 1988, on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity, and builds settlements on the occupied areas despite objections from the United Nations.

    The Golan Heights is a disputed territory that had been part of Syria before Israel seized the area in 1967 during the Six-Day War. The Golan Heights is internationally recognized as part of Syria and the United Nations has repeatedly stated that Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights is illegal, calling for it to be returned to Syria.

    The State of Palestine is recognized by 136 of the 193 UN member states, including Russia.

    Russia and Palestine maintain traditionally friendly relations, with the Russian-Palestinian intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation convening for the first time in March.

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Standoff Continues (463)


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