Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected in Palestine later today, where he will meet President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential headquarters in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the south of the West Bank.
This will be the Russian leader’s third visit to Palestine following his April 2005 and June 2012 visits.
“The visit of President Putin and his meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas today comes at a critical time in light of the continuation of Israeli settlement activities, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and talk about annexation of settlements, not to mention the biased US positions toward the occupation,” Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Abdel Hafeez Nofal, told WAFA in a telephone interview.
He said that the visit confirms Russia’s firm stance toward the two-state solution and the establishment of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 borders.
He explained that President Abbas will discuss with his Russian counterpart the possibility of pressuring the Israeli side to stop the escalation on the ground.
Nofal indicated that President Abbas will renew to Putin his rejection of the unilateral American arbitration of the peace process and the necessity of creating a new international multilateral mechanism and having an international conference in which Russia plays an active role in it.
He stressed that Russia can play a major role in the peace process due to its increasing role in the region, especially after declaring that the region is important for its national interest.
Palestine’s relations with Russia dates back to November 30, 1974, when then Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the late Yasser Arafat, visited Moscow.
Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, supported the PLO in its efforts to obtain the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people at the United Nations, and after the PLO had recognized the UN resolutions on the Middle East conflict, Palestine opened an embassy in Moscow in 1988, and in 1995 Russia opened a representative office in Palestine following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
As part of its efforts to push the peace process forward and reach a just solution to the Palestinian issue, Moscow appointed a special envoy for the peace process in the Middle East and was included as a member of the International Quartet, which was formed in 2002, along with the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
Russia expressed its rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and affirmed its firm position to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine and to support a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement that will lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The Russian foreign ministry had said that Trump’s decision would complicate the situation in Palestinian-Israeli relations, that it was a unilateral decision that was not coordinated with anyone, and that what the Americans did was inconsistent with the position of the international community.
On the level of bilateral cooperation in various fields, a joint Russian-Palestinian governmental committee was formed in April 2015 for economic and trade cooperation, which contributed to developing working partnership between the two countries.
At the fourth committee meeting recently held in Moscow, a series of bilateral agreements were signed in various sectors including economic, commerce, industry, agriculture, information and communications technology, education, health, tourism, culture, arts and others.