Russia a ‘more balanced’ peacemaker than US, says PLO official
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Russia a ‘more balanced’ peacemaker than US, says PLO official

In flurry of diplomatic activity, officials from Moscow and Paris set to arrive next week in bid to push both nations’ peace initiatives

Senior PLO official Ahmed Majdalani. (YouTube screen capture)
Senior PLO official Ahmed Majdalani. (YouTube screen capture)

A senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization praised Russia this week as a more “credible” and “balanced” third-party facilitator for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks than the US.

“Russia can fulfill a positive, credible and more balanced role,” Ahmad Majdalani told the el-Raad television station, “since the US is not at all interested in pressuring Israel, which is carrying out its policy in the region.”

The comments, reported by Israel Radio Friday morning, come the week before Moscow’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov is set to arrive in Israel for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Bogdanov is expected to raise Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to host peace talks in Moscow between the sides.

A screen capture of Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov. (YouTube screen capture)
A screen capture of Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov. (YouTube screen capture)

“We expect to hear from the Israeli side what commitments it is willing to make before the date of the meeting will be set,” Majdalani said.

Meanwhile, French special envoy Pierre Vimont is slated to arrive in Cairo next week on a similar mission. He will meet with foreign ministers from several Arab states and the PA to discuss holding a major multilateral peace conference in Paris before the end of 2016.

France's Middle East envoy Pierre Vimont meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 15, 2016, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
France’s Middle East envoy Pierre Vimont meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 15, 2016, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Vimont’s visit comes after a recent meeting on the issue between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The latest flurry of peace initiatives was also reportedly raised Thursday in a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and US Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi, where both were on official visits.

Even China sent its special envoy, Wu Sike, to Ramallah this week, where he met with Abbas and discussed both the PA leader’s and Beijing’s support for the French initiative.

Representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries, the Arab League, European Union and the United Nations met in Paris in June to discuss ways in which the international community could help advance the peace process.

Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives were invited to attend the meeting, which aimed to lay the ground for the full-fledged peace conference France hopes to host by the end of the year, which it says will include Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinians have welcomed the French bid, but Israel has said the initiative would go down in history as having “pushed peace further away.” Jerusalem has thus far refused to cooperate with the initiative, saying it gives the Palestinians an excuse to continue avoiding direct peace negotiations.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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