Putin to visit Bethlehem

Russian President expected to visit Bethlehem next month, meet Abbas.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Mahmoud Abbas and Vladimir Putin
Mahmoud Abbas and Vladimir Putin
Flash 90

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Bethlehem on January 23, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal said Friday, according to the Russian TASS news agency.

"Mr. Putin will visit Palestine, that will be in Bethlehem around January 23," he told reporters, adding that the Russian president was expected to meet with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"Many issues will be discussed, not only bilateral relations, but others as well," said Hafiz Nofal. "We always see eye to eye [on many issues], but we have always said that we will not recognize any unilateral steps by the US regarding the peace process. These are unilateral American steps, which we do not recognize and which we are opposed to."

The diplomat stressed that the PA expected Russia to play a more effective role in the peace process.

Putin has in the past expressed a desire to host an Israeli-Palestinian Arab summit to revive the talks but nothing has materialized yet in this regard.

The Israel-PA peace process has been frozen since 2014, when Abbas breached conditions of talks that were ongoing at the time by unilaterally joining international treaties and conventions.

The US has been working on its so-called “Deal of the Century” for Israel-PA peace, but so far has only unveiled the economic component of that plan.

Abbas has rejected the US peace plan before it has even been made public. He has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for negotiations since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital two years ago.

Russia has also rejected the initiative and did not take part in the Bahrain summit this past June in which the economic part of the deal was unveiled.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)