Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has endorsed a Palestinian state, saying Moscow had recognized Palestinian independence in 1988 and was not changing the position adopted by the former Soviet Union, according to Reuters.
“Russia’s position remains unchanged. Russia made its choice a long time ago … we supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” Medvedev said.
During the visit, the Palestinian and Russian presidents will signed three agreements in agriculture, sports and communications. Medvedev then inaugurated a new Russian art museum in Jericho.
At the same time, Quartet foreign ministers were due to meet next month in Munich to discuss ways to revive the Middle East peace process, which has been a foreign policy priority for U.S. President Barack Obama but has ground to a halt due to a dispute over Israel’s West Bank settlements policy. Medvedev said this was the main topic of his talks.
“We discussed the possible prospectives of resuming the dialogue. In order to do that, we need to express maximum moderation. This in the first place relates to the freezing of settlement activity of Israel on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem,” he said.
The Israelis should choose the way of peace for their benefit, ” PNA President Mahmoud Abbas said.
According to CNN, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called Medvedev’s trip a “historic state visit” adding that “the message to the world is that the Palestinians are ready for statehood and independence.”
Erakat sees this visit as an important step towards achieving Palestinian independence, he said.
“This is our message to the world: Look at us. We are ready for a statehood, we are ready for independence, we are ready for freedom.”
Medvedev’s visit to the West Bank concurred with the derangement of his visit to Israel. Israel apologized to the Kremlin for having to cancel Medvedev’s first trip when foreign ministry diplomats who would normally prepare it stepped up their strike action last month to win better pay and conditions.
Although the head of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected rumours that the visit of Dmitriy Medvedev to Palestine was taken as a revenge on Israel for the torn away visit, some actions could speak better than words. Everything that happens in the Middle East affects Russia’s interests.
Medvedev drew applause from Palestinians when he noted that “this is the first visit of a Russian president to Palestine not united with a visit to another country” — a clear reference to Israel which would normally have been his first stop, Reuters noted.
Israel has been alarmed in the past two months by a string of recognitions by Latin American states including Brazil and Argentina, which some analysts say could be a precursor to a move by the Palestinians to seek full United Nations membership if efforts to revive moribund peace negotiations fall through.
As the West Bank geared up for the visit by the Russian President, Israel decided to delay delivery of Russian armored personnel carriers (APC) to Palestinian territories without an explanation, RT (Russia Today) reported.
“There is a problem with Israel’s abandoning all of its promises, with its totally unmotivated abandoning of its own resolutions,” Abbas said in an interview with Interfax.
“Such a controversial Israeli position has puzzled us, our Russian friends, as well as Americans, because there is virtually no reason for such refusal by Israel that is still not letting these APCs pass through,” he said.
According to RT, Abbas added that the Israeli authorities had also refused permission for the delivery of assault rifles and ammunition for local security agencies. Earlier, Israel had agreed to the supply of the Russian APCs for PNA police and security forces, provided that machine-guns were removed from them. The PNA leader said that 50 APCs are now sitting in Jordan, where they were delivered on July 19, 2010.