Abbas meets with Putin and seeks the role of the Quartet in the peace process

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

The meeting took place in the resort city of Sochi, on the Black Sea.

On the eve of the visit, Abbas said he will discuss with Putin the idea of ​​holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East under the auspices of the Quartet, made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

“We trust that Russia will support our efforts [to hold the conference]”Abbas told the Russian news agency Sputnik.

Abbas said his talks with Putin will focus on ways to revive the peace process with Israel, especially in light of Russia’s support for the two-state solution.

MOHAMMED DAHLAN, a former Fatah security chief, gestured at his office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last year. (credit: REUTERS)

He added that he will also brief Putin on the latest developments related to Israeli-Palestinian relations “and how to find a solution that is based on international legitimacy.”

Additionally, the Abbas-Putin talks addressed ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani said Abbas’s visit to Moscow is primarily aimed at discussing ways to revive the Quartet’s role in the region in general and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in particular.

The demand to revive the Quartet was aimed at preventing the United States from playing an exclusive and leading role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said.

“We want the participation of various international parties in the peace process,” added the official. “Past experience has shown that the United States cannot oversee the peace process alone, mainly due to its bias in favor of Israel.”

The current US administration “appears to be weak and is not interested in playing a significant and influential role in the region,” the official said. “That is why the Palestinian leadership has decided to push forward President Abbas’s initiative to encourage members of the Quartet to replace the United States as the main sponsors of the peace process. President Putin is a friend of the Palestinian people and is committed to the two-state solution. “

It was unclear whether the Abbas-Putin talks also addressed divisions among the Palestinians, including the dispute between Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, as well as the rivalry between the Palestinian Authority President and the ousted Fatah operative, Mohammed Dahlan. .

Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security chief in the Gaza Strip, was expelled from Fatah after a fight with Abbas more than a decade ago. Since then, Dahlan has been residing in the United Arab Emirates, where he has become an important and prominent opponent of Abbas and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

Dahlan and some of his followers recently visited Moscow, where they met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The visit sparked speculation among Palestinians that the Russians planned to act as mediators to resolve the dispute between Abbas and Dahlan. The visit also came amid reports that the UAE has imposed restrictions on Dahlan and his men, prohibiting them from conducting their public activities in the Gulf state.

Dahlan’s supporters denied the reports, saying there was no tension between him and the rulers of the United Arab Emirates. They also denied that Dahlan was considering moving to Egypt. According to Arab media reports, Dahlan serves as a special adviser to the UAE Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

Fatah officials in Ramallah, for their part, denied that Moscow was working to end the dispute between Abbas and his archrival, Dahlan. “Mohammed Dahlan is a convicted criminal and will not be allowed to return to Fatah leadership,” said a veteran Fatah official. Dahlan was expelled from Fatah in 2011 due to his involvement in corruption and other serious crimes. If he decides to return to Ramallah, he will be sent to prison, where he belongs. “

In 2016, a Palestinian Authority court in Ramallah sentenced Dahlan, in absentia, to three years in prison after convicting him of embezzling $ 16 million.

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