Russia offers to mediate between US and PA

Russia reportedly offers to facilitate meeting between US and PA as part of an initiative to slow or stop Israeli sovereignty moves.

Elad Benari ,

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Russia has offered to facilitate a meeting in the next few weeks between the US and the Palestinian Authority, Western diplomats briefed on the Russian initiative told Barak Ravid of Channel 13 News on Wednesday.

According to the diplomatic sources, the UN and the EU support the Russian initiative and see it as a way to create a new political process that slows or stops Israel's moves toward application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

"The only way to stop Israeli annexation is to renew talks between the Palestinians and the US,” said one Western diplomat quoted in the report.

The PA has been boycotting the US since December of 2017, when President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Its leaders have refused to engage with the US on Trump’s peace proposal, which PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said would be relegated to the "dustbin of history."

Ravid noted that the PA demands that any future peace talks be held in a wider framework like the Middle East Quartet, which includes the US, Russia, the UN and the EU.

In order to overcome the Palestinian boycott, the Russians are proposing a mini summit in Geneva with the Palestinians, the US, the other members of the Quartet and Arab states, such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It is unclear if Israel would be invited to this meeting or to a separate summit.

Russia's deputy foreign minister for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, spoke on Tuesday with White House special envoy Avi Berkowitz and officials from the US National Security Council, according to Ravid’s report.

Berkowitz didn’t rule out the Russian proposal but said the meeting would have to be framed around the Trump plan, and the Palestinians would have to present their reservations and their proposals for changes to the plan, sources briefed on the call said.

Bogdanov also called the PA chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and discussed with him “the assistance of the Quartet of international mediators” in the peace process, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

Western diplomats quoted in the report said the Palestinians are not ruling out the Russian initiative but haven’t given a final answer.