Russia says it backs Palestinian UN statehood bid

Moscow to support measure that calls for 2017 Israeli withdrawal from West Bank, East Jerusalem

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov (photo credit: AP/Mikhail Metzel)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov (photo credit: AP/Mikhail Metzel)

A top Russian official said Thursday that Moscow will support a draft resolution on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia would vote in favor of the controversial bid, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines by the end of 2017, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Moscow also expressed hope that all other members of the Security Council would support the measure and that it will not be vetoed.

“As far as we understand the Palestinians, the vote may take place shortly although they have yet to set the precise date. We have repeatedly said that we will vote for this resolution,” Gennady said, according to the report.

The resolution, which was presented to the United Nations Security Council by Jordan last week, calls for a “lasting and comprehensive peace solution” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that “fulfills the vision of a Palestinian state,” while demanding a phased Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the West Bank that does “not exceed the end of 2017.”

Gennady said a vote could be called on the resolution within 24 hours, though officials have indicated the vote likely won’t take place until January 2015 at the earliest.

Although Russia enjoys cordial relations with Jerusalem, Moscow has long championed Palestinian statehood and has been on friendly terms with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

The bid is widely expected to be vetoed by the US.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that Washington does not support the resolution in its current format, but has maintained Washington’s support for a two-state solution and hinted that the US could support alternative wording.

Palestinian officials say they have come under US pressure to delay the vote at least until after Israel holds elections on March 17. However, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said earlier this week that he had rejected Washington’s request to push off the vote.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, a colleague of Gatilov’s, had previously announced his country’s support for a UN resolution backing a Palestinian state during a Cairo conference for international donors supporting reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“So we say [to Palestinians], if you find one option or another suitable, then we will support you as friends…. We think that the Palestinian case is fair, meaning that people have a right to self-determination, up to establishing their state,” Bogdanov told journalists in October.

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