Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi resort in Western Russia on Thursday, and said that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be “impossible” without the participation of Moscow in the peace process.
“It is impossible to solve the Palestinian issue without Russia’s meaningful participation in the peace process. That is what we have been emphasizing at all international meetings,” Abbas said in his meeting with Putin, according to the official Russian State news agency Tass.
Putin said Russia “will continue to give its full support to the resumption of direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.”
“The peaceful coexistence of the two states — Palestine and Israel — is an indispensable condition to ensure genuine security and stability in this region,” Putin said.
Abbas, according to a report in the official PA news site Wafa, also reiterated that he is still willing to participate in a three-way summit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow.
“We are ready to accept this invitation at anytime,” Abbas said.
“We had planned to meet in Moscow, but he didn’t show up,” Abbas said earlier this month, referring to Netanyahu in the context of Russian efforts to set up such a meeting last year.
Netanyahu and Abbas have repeatedly declared their willingness for face-to-face talks, and blamed each other for dodging the proposed September 2016 meet-up in Moscow.
On Tuesday, in a press conference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Abbas said he was willing to meet with Netanyahu under the auspices of US President Donald Trump, who he met earlier in the month.
Before their closed-door meeting, Abbas and Putin participated via video link in an inauguration ceremony of a Russian-sponsored $40 million cultural and economic center in Bethlehem. The center is named after Putin.
“The opening of the complex is not only a notable milestone in the development of the Russian-Palestinian relationship, but also evidence of the strong friendship between our countries and our nations,” Putin told the inauguration ceremony.
Ziyad al-Bandak, the director of the new center, told Wafa that the complex is 15,000 square meters and has six floors.
He said that there is a sports and youth department that consists of judo, karate and Roman wrestling rooms, and a cafeteria. Another section is a music complex and contains a training and teaching hall.
Trump is slated to visit Israel and Bethlehem later in May, and is expected to separately meet Netanyahu and Abbas and use the visit to advance his goal of mediating negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It is speculated that he may also seek to bring Netanyahu and Abbas together in the course of his May 22-23 visit, but no such plans have been confirmed.
Abbas Foreign Affairs Adviser Nabil Shaath told The Times of Israel on Monday that while the Palestinians are embracing a new round of US-backed talks, they are still committed to working with the wider international community to attain their goal of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.