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Palestine's Abbas wants Moscow to play 'effective role' in peace process

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands during a press conference following a meeting in the West Bank city of Ariha (Jericho), on November 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says "Russia should play an effective role” in the Middle East peace process. 

Abbas made the remarks at a joint press conference with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the occupied West Bank city of Ariha (Jericho) on Friday, hours after the arrival of the Russian premier in the city as part of a three-day visit to the region.

Abbas added that they had also discussed the issue of holding peace talks, including one in Moscow and another to be held by year-end in France.

"We discussed the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold a trilateral meeting in Moscow, which the Israelis demanded to postpone. In any case, we believe that Russia should play an effective role in any developments regarding the peace process,” Abbas further said after a private meeting with Medvedev.

The Palestinian president also thanked Moscow for financing reconstruction work in Ariha's historic center.

Abbas also expressed hope that the next US administration would demonstrate commitment to the peace process, adding that Palestinians have to wait and see what stance US President-elect Donald Trump would adopt on the so-called “two-state solution” so that people in the occupied territories can live “next to each other in security and stability.”

“The election of President Donald Trump is an (internal) American issue. We have been watching the election process for the past year and until now. What we care about is what Mr. Trump says after he arrives in the White House,” Abbas added.

Trump has been a staunch opponent of the so-called two-state solution, having referred to East Jerusalem al-Quds as the “undivided” or “eternal” capital of the Israeli regime.

Trump’s top Israel adviser Jason Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday that the US president-elect did not intend to condemn Israel’s land expropriation policies, and did not view the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank as an obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

Medvedev, for his part, said that Russia stands by "the idea that a two state-solution is the only way to achieve real peace in this ancient land."

"As mediators we will continue our efforts and we hope for the help of other participants in this process, including the new administration of the United States of America,” Medvedev added.

He also said that during his meeting, an array of important issues, such as the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and security in the region, were discussed, and several documents, including intergovernmental agreements on investment protection, were signed.

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