Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Tuesday with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
In a joint press conference the two held after their meeting, Putin declared that Russia has no problem recognizing an independent Palestinian state, saying, “We did it 25 years ago and our position has not changed.”
Abbas called to convene a peace conference in Moscow to try to restart the Middle East peace process, nothing that a decision on such a conference was made several years ago but has yet to be implemented.
In an interview with the Russian Interfax news agency ahead of his meeting with Putin, Abbas said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave messages that were "too general" in a recent exchange of letters and that he did not address points Abbas had raised.
Abbas said the diplomatic deadlock between Israel and the PA is due to continued construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and called for "a freeze on Jewish construction in the territories which is spreading like crawfish."
Abbas has repeatedly continued to demand that Israel accept the indefensible pre-1967 lines as final borders, release all Arab terrorists from its jails, and halt construction in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem for a second time before talks begin.
He recently warned that he may seek non-member status for a Palestinian state at the United Nations if peace talks with Israel do not resume.
Abbas’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently said Abbas will demand the release of 123 long-term prisoners before agreeing to meet Netanyahu.
Putin’s meeting with Abbas came after his visit to Israel on Monday, during which he met with both Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. During his meeting with Peres, Putin said that serious negotiations for peace cannot be promoted without trust between the parties, adding that it is important to quickly restore trust and return to the negotiating table.
He also said that he places an importance on maintaining Israel’s security and noted that “it is the Russian national interest to ensure peace and tranquility for Israel.”
Putin also warned Peres that attacking Iran could backfire and advised the world to keep its nose out of affairs in Syria, where Russia has a vested interest.