Medvedev Abbas 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday urged the Quartet
members, who are scheduled to meet in Munich next month, to issue decisions that
would oblige Israel to return to the negotiating table with the
Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference in
Jericho with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said there were only
two options: Negotiations or violence and terrorism.
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“We won’t choose
violence and terrorism,” he declared. “Therefore, we tell the Israelis
that they must choose the path of peace for their own interest and for the
interests of their generations.”
Medvedev was originally scheduled to
come first to Israel before going to the PA, but his trip to Israel was canceled
because of the Foreign Ministry workers’ sanctions. A senior ministry official
said that once the work sanctions ended, Jerusalem would contact Moscow to try
and reschedule a visit to Israel.
Abbas reiterated his demand for a full
cessation of settlement construction so as to pave the way for the resumption of
the peace talks and the implementation of the road map for peace, the Arab peace
initiative and UN resolutions.
He hailed the Russians for their longtime
support for the Palestinians, noting that he had once headed the Palestinian-
Russian Friendship Association.
Abbas said he had briefed Medvedev on the
ongoing construction in the settlements and Israeli measures in east Jerusalem
that, he claimed, were designed to change the city’s character, identity and
The two men also discussed the impasse in the peace talks and
the possibility that Russia, as a member of the Quartet, would play an active
role in the peace process, Abbas said. The Quartet, which is made up of the US,
EU, Russia and UN, is scheduled to meet next on February 5 in
Abbas also praised Latin American countries that had recently
recognized a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders.
at the press conference that the Russian position toward the issue of
recognizing a Palestinian state hadn’t changed.
He pointed out that the
Soviet Union had recognized the PLO declaration of statehood in 1988.
“The Russian position hasn’t
changed, as I’ve told the president,” he said. “Russia has made its choice long
ago, at the end of the ’80s. We supported and will support the inalienable right
of the Palestinian people to create its own state, which is independent,
territorially integral and with a capital in east Jerusalem.”
officials pointed out that the Russian president stepped back from explicitly
calling for a state along the 1967 lines, a recognition the Palestinians are
seeking. The officials said that Foreign Ministry officials were in touch with
the Russian delegation before it went to Jericho to ensure there would be no
change in the Russian position.
Israeli government officials said they
regretted that the PA was investing so much energy in trying to get “meaningless
declarations” from various countries around the world.
“In 1988, Yasser
Arafat declared an independent state and more than 100 counties recognized it,”
one official said. “The question is whether that changed anything for the
Palestinians, did it change anything in the West Bank? It changed
The official said the Palestinian leadership needed to chose
between “the path of empty rhetoric and meaningless declarations” and “direct
engagement with Israel.” Only through negotiations with Israel “can
realities be changed,” the official said.
National Security Adviser Uzi
Arad was in Moscow last week and President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet
with Medvedev later this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Medvedev said he discussed with Abbas ways of reviving the
peace talks with Israel. He called on both parties to exercise self-restraint
and avoid unilateral actions. He also called for a halt of Israeli construction
in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
He said all parties would benefit
from the creation of a Palestinian state, especially Israelis and
Palestinians. “This is what we have to work to achieve,” Medvedev
He also expressed readiness to host a peace conference in Moscow
and warned that the current stalemate would have a negative impact on the
situation in the Middle East.
Medvedev and Abbas inaugurated the Russian
Museum in Jericho. Abbas described the project as a “symbol of Russian
civilization in Palestine.”
Medvedev said that the existence of the
museum in the Palestinian territories was a symbol of Russian presence in the
Holy Land and the strong ties between Palestinians and Russians.