Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a news conference in Sochi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet in Moscow was still in force.
Lavrov said at a conference in Abu Dhabi that Russia was grateful that the two sides had in principle accepted the invitation.
No date has been given for the meeting, which Russia's Foreign Ministry first announced in September.
Since the US-led peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians fell apart in April 2014, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel until it halts all settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Israel, in turn, has insisted that it wants to hold talks without preconditions, and an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post
that Netanyahu would be willing to go anywhere to meet with Abbas, including Moscow.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry first announced in September 2016 that Netanyahu and Abbas had agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow.
Yet, continuous delays and postponements have kept both sides out of the negotiating table.
Moscow's announcement last year came after weeks of mixed signals from Jerusalem and Ramallah regarding a meeting under the auspices of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Both Netanyahu and Abbas have said throughout the process that they were interested, but that the other side was putting up obstacles.
Noting that US mediation efforts in 2013-2014 failed, officials in Russia's Foreign Ministry were still convinced of "the need to resume the negotiation process” in order to normalize the situation, and “find a compromise solution on the basis of international law.”
Deadlock is a cause of “great concern,” and leads to a “steady deterioration of the situation on the ground,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.