0528 GMT February 18, 2018
Palestinian Authority officials said Abbas aims to include Russia and other countries in any peace process with Israel in the wake of Washington’s pro-Israel policies, presstv.com reported.
“Russia and Putin can play an important role within the frame of an international forum for peace,” Abbas' diplomatic adviser, Majdi al-Khalidi said.
The meeting was initially slated to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but was moved following Sunday’s plane crash near Moscow that left 71 people dead.
It comes amid anger among Palestinians at US President Donald Trump’s latest hostile measures in favor of Israel, including his decision last December to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the ‘capital’ of the regime and begin work to transfer Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
Trump’s declaration prompted Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the decades-long conflict as Washington is ‘completely biased’ towards Tel Aviv.
In response to Abbas’ position, the Trump administration said in January that it would withhold $65 million of a $125 million aid installment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Al-Khalidi noted that Russia’s membership in the UN Security Council and the so-called Quartet on the Middle East, which also comprises the UN, EU and the US, enables it to play an active role in any effort to achieve elusive peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
The official described the upcoming meeting as ‘important’ as it comes on the eve of Abbas’ address before the UN General Assembly later this month.
Another top official in Ramallah said that Abbas will renew his call for an internationally-backed panel to broker any talks with Israel as a substitute for a US-sponsored process during his upcoming speech before the UN body.
“President Abbas is hoping to win Putin’s support for the idea of an international multilateral mechanism for achieving peace in the Middle East,” the official added.
The official noted that the US has opposed holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East, insisting on direct talks between the Palestinian and Israeli officials as the preferred method.
All rounds of talks between Israelis and Palestinians have stalled so far mainly due to the Tel Aviv regime’s refusal to stop its unlawful settlement expansion on the occupied territories.
The Palestinian envoy to the UN on February 8 suggested that China and Arab League could also be part of any future ‘peace processes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In late January, Abbas addressed an African Union meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, also calling on African states to join the multilateral mechanism to discuss the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.