A top leader of Hamas said Monday that Russia will oppose the White House’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace as a delegation from the terror group met with Russian officials in Moscow.
“We agreed with the Russians that we won’t allow the advancement of the deal of the century,” Moussa Abu Marzouk said, according to the Haaretz daily.
The assertion by Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’s politburo, came after he met with top Russian diplomats in Moscow, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s envoy to the Middle East.
“The participants focused on the problems of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement in accordance with the well-known international legal framework, including UN resolutions, and the soonest possible restoration of national Palestinian unity based on the agreement signed in October 2017 in Cairo between the Hamas and Fatah movements,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said after Bogdanov’s meeting with the Hamas delegation.
A senior Hamas member in the Gaza Strip told Haaretz the timing of the trip was intentional, coming on the heels of the US peace team’s visit to the Middle East to promote the Trump administration’s peace plan and enlist humanitarian aid for Gaza.
“The Russians are a very central player in the Middle East. They have a direct connection with all the players in the region, from Israel to the Palestinian Authority and Iran,” the Hamas member was quoted as saying.
In light of Russia’s status, the Hamas member said it was important for the terror group to coordinate with Moscow on humanitarian conditions in Gaza and US peace efforts.
“The stance of the organization is to prevent the US, and especially the current government, to act as an exclusive player in the region that implements in practice the policies of Israel,” the Hamas member said.
Though Hamas is listed as a terror group by Israel and the US, Russia has rejected this designation and has pushed back on criticism of its ties with the Islamist organization.
Like its rival Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has also sought to cultivate closer relations with Russia, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling for an expanded Russian role in peace talks during a meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin in February.
Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestine Football Association, said Monday Abbas would meet with Putin when he attends the World Cup final in Moscow next month.
Hebrew media reports said Putin invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to also attend the game, though the premier has yet decide if he will go.
Even if here were to attend, it is not clear that Netanyahu would meet with Abbas. Though both have previously expressed a willingness to meet in Russia, such a meeting has yet to take place.