Lavrov: Moscow Ready to Offer a Platform for Palestinian Peace Talks

According to Russian Politics & Diplomacy, the Russian foreign minister, the Arab peace initiative is a universal document regarded as basic.

Moscow sees no need to amend the Arab peace initiative on settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki on Wednesday.

The Israeli prime minister who had met the Russian president in Moscow the day before did not call for any amendments.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier that “the meeting will focus on the problems of Palestinian-Israeli peace process” in the light of the forum on a Middle Eastern settlement that was held in Paris on June 3.

It is expected that special attention at the meeting will be paid to the situation in Palestinian territories. “The prospects of establishing inter-Palestinian unity will definitely be discussed, and relevant issues of bilateral Russian-Palestinian cooperation in different spheres will be touched upon separately,” Zakharova noted.

Lavrov calls for steps to improve situation with Middle East settlement
“I did not hear any demands for amending the Arab peace initiative in the remarks of [Israeli Prime Minister -TASS] Benjamin Netanyahu. It is integral and embraces the entire set of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, including Palestine of course. There is no need to amend it,” the Russian foreign minister said.

According to Lavrov, the Arab peace initiative is a universal document, which everybody regards as basic.

“Saudi Arabia was the first to forward the initiative, which was later joined by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the entire Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Honestly, the report, which the quartet’s representatives are currently preparing following the instructions of the quartet’s session held in February this year, is designed to confirm and update the international legal framework for the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We hope that our partners in the ‘quartet’ will try to finish the work on this report, especially the recommendations contained in it, as soon as possible,” Lavrov said.

Results of conference in Paris

According to several observers, the international conference on a Middle Eastern settlement that took place in Paris on June 3, can hardly be considered productive. Establishing working groups which should have been facilitating promotion of peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine did not move anywhere from statements that had been made before the event.

Despite the high level of participation (UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, US State Secretary John Kerry), the final document for the press looked rather dull – the agreements reached by the participating countries were outlined on half a page.

The sides have once again confirmed their support for the two-state solution, condemned Israel’s settlement policy, and noted the importance of direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine. External players can only facilitate the settlement of the conflict, as many politicians at the conference stressed, but only Israelis and Palestinians can reach a direct agreement.

In turn, Moscow has described the conference as useful and called for analyzing its results. “The meeting was useful. The results of this discussion that took place in Paris will have to be analyzed, along with the final document, and see what can be done to promote sustainable negotiations process between Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of these approaches,” Russian presidential special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS after the conference.

Pause in political process too long

At the same time, the situation with direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel remains very complicated. According to Bogdanov, “the pause in the political process between the sides has become too long.”
“The formula of the two-state solution came under a real threat. Though it was not removed from the agenda, prospects of fair settlement on the internationally recognized basis are practically melting away in front of our eyes,” the diplomat noted. “It is nearing the ‘point of no return’. Such developments would only facilitate further escalation of tensions,” he said in Paris.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki

Palestinian FM hopes for a Russian active role in resolving conflict with Israel “We noted with concern the degradation of relations at this stage,” Lavrov said. “It is essential to take additional steps to overcome this negative trend to prevent further escalation of the situation.”
“We believe that today there is high demand in abandoning further confrontation and in creating conditions to resume political process in the interests of an all-encompassing, fair and stable Palestinian-Israeli settlement,” Russia’s top diplomat stressed.

“In this context, we believe it is important to use more actively the potential of the ‘Quartet’ of the Middle East mediators that can find the way out of the current deadlock,” Lavrov said. “Together with partners in the ‘Quartet’, we are preparing now a report with the respective recommendations. We expect that this report will become an important contribution towards efforts on reviving the peace process.”.

“We, in principle, support any initiatives, which are going to help us at this difficult stage, when the situation is degrading, to reverse the trend and create conditions for resuming the direct talks,” Lavrov said. “In pursuit of this goal and in view of the need to prepare conditions for resuming the talks, we took part in the Paris meeting on June 3,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“We used the existing international legal decisions to promote these approaches into the final document of the Paris meeting. We will see how much we succeeded and how helpful these efforts will be in the process of resuming the talks as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, we will try to make the talks begin as soon as possible,” Lavrov said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also noted the importance of creating conditions for such talks speaking at the press conference on the sidelines of the meeting in Paris.

Moscow, in turn, expressed readiness to provide a platform for possible negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “Of course, we are ready (to provide a platform) if the two sides – Israelis and Palestinians – have the desire and readiness to meet. I think that contacts exist in some kind of format.