Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas
Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bethlehem.

“I welcome my dear friend, President Vladimir Putin, the President of the Federal Republic of Russia, my personal friend and the friend of the Palestinian people who never misses an opportunity to talk about or support the Palestinian cause, and this is what we are accustomed to,” Abbas said as he welcomed Putin, according to the Wafa news agency.

Abbas expressed his gratitude for the political, economic, financial, security and cultural support that Russia has provided the PA in recent years, in addition to its support for “the just question of Palestine.”

He also praised the positive and effective role Russia has played in the region.

According to Wafa, among the issues discussed between the two leaders were what was described as “Israel’s ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land”, the US so-called “Deal of the Century”, and efforts to hold the Palestinian legislative and presidential elections.

Putin praised the historical PA-Russian relations and expressed his readiness to cooperate with and support the PA in all fields.

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

His visit came as the White House announced that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz have both accepted the Trump Administration's invitation to the White House next week to discuss the administration's upcoming Middle East peace 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.

On Wednesday, Abbas met French President Emmanuel Macron in Ramallah and expressed hope that France will recognize a Palestinian state.

Palestinian Arab officials have been pressuring countries to officially recognize “Palestine”, in a move meant to bypass direct peace talks with Israel.

While several European countries have recognized “Palestine” in recent years, those moves were symbolic ones that have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.