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Russia welcomes Fatah and Hamas unity pledge

Lavrov calls on Arab governments to support unification efforts between Ramallah-based PA and Gaza-ruling terror group

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens as Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens as Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

MOSCOW — Russia welcomed Friday a pledge of unity between Palestinian factions Fatah and the Hamas terror group against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans.

In a rare joint press conference on Thursday, the rival factions pledged a united campaign against Israel’s prospective plans to annex territory in the West Bank.

“We noted with satisfaction the joint press conference held yesterday by representatives of Fatah and Hamas during which a decision was announced to jointly defend the interests of the Palestinian government based on the platform of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation,” said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Speaking at a meeting with a top Libyan official, Lavrov added that the “restoration of Palestinian unity” was “one of the key questions that needs to be resolved.”

He said Moscow was counting on “all Arab representatives to actively support this trend.”

Lavrov spoke at a meeting in Moscow with Aguila Saleh, speaker of Libya’s elected parliament based in the country’s east.

Fatah, which controls the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, and Hamas that runs the Gaza Strip have been plagued by divisions for more than a decade.

Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, attends by video conference a meeting with deputy Hamas chief Saleh Arouri (on screen from Beirut) discussing Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, on July 2, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

The joint press conference was spurred by their common opposition to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.

The plan paves the way for Israel to annex roughly 30 percent of the West Bank, including Jewish settlements in the territory, which many considered illegal under international law.

In a formal counter-proposal presented to the international peacemaking Quartet including Russia, the Palestinian leadership said they are prepared to renew long-stalled peace talks with Israel and to agree to “minor” territorial concessions.

Lavrov stressed the need to “immediately renew, relaunch direct Israeli-Palestinians talks under the aegis of the quartet of international peace brokers and with the active participation of Arab states.”

Russia has close ties both with Israel and the Palestinians and has said it is ready to host direct talks between the two sides.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Trump’s plan to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in January.

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