Russia said to make push for intra-Palestinian reconciliation
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Russia said to make push for intra-Palestinian reconciliation

A ‘major reason’ for Moscow’s invitation to Hamas chief, which displeased Israel, is effort to mend rifts, says Arabic daily; PA foreign minister says won’t meet Haniyeh there

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Hamas and Fatah leaders meeting in Gaza for talks on Palestinian reconciliation on April 22, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas and Fatah leaders meeting in Gaza for talks on Palestinian reconciliation on April 22, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Russia plans to make efforts to assist embittered rivals Fatah and Hamas in achieving reconciliation, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a London-based Arabic daily, reported on Thursday, citing “well-placed” sources.

Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since 2007 when the latter forcibly ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip.

Over the past several years, the two parties have agreed to a number of reconciliation deals, but have failed to implement them.

Russia’s intention to advance a possible rapprochement was a “major reason” for its recent decision to invite Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh to Moscow, the sources told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Palestinian Hamas top leader Ismail Haniyeh waves to protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, October 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Haidar Rashid, Russia’s representative in Ramallah, on November 28 delivered an invitation to Haniyeh, according to Hamas’s official website.

Haniyeh is expected to leave for Egypt this weekend or at the beginning of next week before traveling to Moscow, the sources said, adding he may also visit Qatar, Turkey, Lebanon, Sudan, Kuwait and other countries while abroad.

Haniyeh has not traveled to any country other than Egypt since he became Hamas chief in May 2017.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, according to the Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station.

Malki told Sputnik, a Russian state-owned outlet, he will not be meeting with a Hamas delegation during his stay in Moscow.

Israeli government officials have lodged furious protests with Russia over its invitation to the Hamas leader, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday, citing Israeli officials.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Malki, in a press conference on October 10, 2014. (Ala Mufarja / Wafa)

But Russian officials rejected Israel’s objections, noting that the Jewish state was itself talking to the terror group, the Channel 10 report added.

For the past several months, Israel has engaged in indirect talks with Hamas, mediated by Egypt and other international parties, about Gaza.

Palestinians are seen crossing at the Erez crossing with Israel near Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on August 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Russia informed “all parties” including Israel that reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas would help to maintain calm and support the future establishment of a Palestinian state, the sources remarked to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Russia has previously made efforts to advance reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

In January 2018, Moscow hosted a number representatives from the two rival parties and several other Palestinian factions to discuss mending the internal Palestinian rift.

In May 2011, Russia also hosted Fatah and Hamas officials to bolster reconciliation efforts.

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