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    Russia Emerges as Arbiter to Settle Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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    Following the UN Security Council's vote on the resolution condemning Israel's settlement-building policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians need to boost their relations with Russia, which has become a major power in the Middle East, Muhammed Asad al-Awawi, an expert in Palestinian affairs, told Sputnik.

    On December 23, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 (2016) on Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, with the sole abstention of the United States.

    "The Russian Federation voted for it because the resolution is based on tested formulas reflecting the general view of the international community, which has been reaffirmed many times, on the illegality of Israeli settlement plans in Palestinian territory," The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in its official statement, published on the Ministry's website.

    "Our experience shows convincingly that a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis without any preconditions," the statement reads, "We would also like to reaffirm our readiness to host a meeting between the leaders of Israel and Palestine in Moscow."

    Muhammed Asad al-Awawi, who teaches history and Palestinian issues in the Open University in Jerusalem, believes that the Palestinians should seek closer cooperation with Russia, since Moscow has become one of the major players in the Middle East.

    "I think the Palestinians need to turn to Russia, because this country has become a major player in Middle East politics," al-Awawi told Sputnik Arabic.

    Commenting on the matter, al-Awawi pointed out that UN Resolution 2334 was a bolt from the blue for Israeli society and the country's political analysts.

    "Being in Israel, I can say that Israeli society and its political analysts were shocked by the UN Security Council's decision, because throughout its history and especially under [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, this country has operated outside the law and above the law," the academic said, adding that some Israelis have gone so far as to demand Netanyahu's resignation, because he "failed to cope with his responsibilities." 

    Al-Awawi envisions that Resolution 2334 will unite the Palestinian political forces.

    "For the first time, the United States made it possible to adopt a resolution condemning Israel's actions," he noted, "Now [the Palestinians] stand a good chance of gaining success on the international arena."

    Indeed, the only reason the proposed resolution was approved by the Security Council was because the United States broke with its tradition of shielding Israel and didn't use its veto power, as it had many times before, Reuters remarked Saturday.

    The US' move has prompted a storm of criticism from Israel.

    "All the American presidents after [Jimmy] Carter have stood by the US promise not to allow the UN to force Israel to do anything. Yesterday, US President Barack Obama violated this promise — as well as his own promise from 2011 — when he did not use his veto power to veto this anti-Israel resolution in the UN," Netanyahu said during a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Saturday night, as quoted by Arutz Sheva.

    However, US President-elect Donald Trump signaled Friday that he does not agree with the Obama administration's decision.

    ​"As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th," he stressed, referring to the day of his inauguration.

    ​"The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!" Trump added Saturday.

    Al-Awawi believes that Trump's rhetoric indicates that he would seek to abolish the resolution.

    "Trump is calming tensions caused by the US position and shows that when he becomes president, everything will be changed and the resolution would be canceled," the academic told Sputnik.

    Under these circumstances, the Palestinians should form a united front to protect their interests, al-Awawi underscored. They should also develop a clear national program that will allow them to conduct foreign policy independently from the United States, he added.

    According to the academic, the Palestinians should also bolster ties with Arab states and countries which support the autonomy. He highlighted that they should take every effort to create a sovereign Palestinian state.

    Following the adoption of Resolution 2334, Palestinian Ambassador to France Salman Harfi warned that if Tel-Aviv refuses to abide by the UN Security Council resolution, the Palestinians will appeal to the body.

    "If Netanyahu refuses to abide to this resolution, we will go back to the Security Council after three months and look for ways to condemn his actions such as the decision of the international community to refrain from dealing with Israeli settlements or labeling Israeli goods produced in the occupied territories," Harfi told Sputnik.

    As of yet, Tel-Aviv has shown that Israel is not inclined to accept the resolution. On Sunday, Netanyahu summoned the 14 ambassadors of the UN Security Council (UNSC) member states, including Russia.

    "This is a wise, deliberate and vigorous reaction, a natural response of a healthy nation, which makes it clear to the nations of the world that what took place at the United Nations is not acceptable to us… Israel is a country with national pride, and we will not turn the other cheek," Netanyahu emphasized Monday.

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    Israeli settlements, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, United Nations, UN Security Council, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestine, Israel, United States, Russia, Middle East
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