Russia has announced it will support the Palestinian Authority in its bid for recognition as a new country by the United Nations, and membership in that body's ranks.
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin made the announcement in an interview Monday with the Interfax news agency, according to AFP. “We will, of course, be voting for any of the Palestinians' proposals. But I must say that we are not pushing them into it,” Churkin added. “We are saying that 'Whatever you decide to do, we will support you.'”
The clarification of Russia's stance comes in direct opposition to that of the United States, which last week likewise delineated its own, saying it will exercise its veto in the U.N. Security Council to oppose PA statehood.
The U.S. announcement came after weeks of diplomatic maneuvers, both overt and back-channel, aimed at persuading the Palestinian Authority to abandon its attempt to secure statehood through a U.N. vote rather than through direct talks with Israel.
Germany sent its foreign minister Sunday to Ramallah on a similar mission. Minister Guido Westerwelle was scheduled to travel to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II, and then to return to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Jordan has also been involved in trying to persuade PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider the entity's position, contending that recognition of statehood by the United Nations at this time would jeopardize the "right of return" for millions of Arabs and their descendants who left the area decades ago, during Israel's defensive wars.
Direct negotiations for a final status agreement had been agreed upon between Israel and the Palestinian Authority years ago, in 1993 as set forth in the Oslo Accords signed by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, predecessor to Mahmoud Abbas, and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
The agreement to settle all differences through direct talks was subsequently reinforced and revised in the 2003 U.S. Roadmap plan signed by then-PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
All of the documents have called for a complete cessation of of incitement and terrorism prior to the conclusion of any agreement – a goal which has never been attained.