Medvedev angry 311 .
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Huge signs in Arabic and Russian were on display all across Jericho last
Tuesday: “Welcome, dear friend – President Dmitry Medvedev” and “President
Medvedev is a friend of the Palestinian people.”
A giant photo of
Medvedev and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decorated an old,
dowdy building near the Jericho governor’s residence where their historic
meeting took place.
'Russia won't change stance on Palestinian state'
The city hadn’t seen such pomp and range of highest
political officials for a long, long time. President Vladimir Putin paid a visit
to Ramallah in 2005.
However, this current visit was very different: this
time Medvedev visited only Jericho, crossing the Allenby Bridge from
It was not supposed to be this way, as the Russian president was
scheduled to visit Israel as well and only canceled this visit due to the
ongoing strike in the Foreign Ministry. This detail was omitted in the many
ecstatic reports by the Palestinian media that flocked to Jericho.
commentators were quick to interpret this as another sign of the “superb”
relations between Russia and the PA, and received an endorsement of this theory
during the speech of the honored guest.
Addressing the dignitaries and
the journalists, Medvedev said that it was a “unique event, a solo
Then a festive ceremony of signing agreements between the Russian
and PA Ministries of Agriculture, news agencies and Olympic committees took
place. When you don’t have anything important to sign, you have to produce
something, one of the Russian journalists whispered. “I’m certain that
tremendous opportunities for expanding the cooperation lie ahead,” the Russian
This might be true. However, the fact that hundreds of
influential businessmen and lobbyists didn’t join Medvedev in his
Palestinian-Jordanian tourney points to the disappointment of the Russian side
with the cancellation of the visit to Israel. As affectionate as the meeting
between Medvedev and Abbas was, it was no substitute for the important economic
and political relations with Israel.
And here comes the million-dollar
question: Did Medvedev officially recognize the Palestinian state or didn’t he?
Many analysts in the PA ruled that he did: in fact Jericho Mayor Hassan Saleh
announced that “Russia is going to recognize Palestinian independence” even
before the Russian president had made his speech. And indubitably, that is
exactly what Palestinians would like to hear.
Yet that was not what
Medvedev actually said. In fact, there was not one single word, not one single
fact regarding unilateral Palestinian independence.
that in 1988, the Soviet Union supported the declaration of independence made by
Yasser Arafat in Algiers, and that the Russian Federation today backs the
struggle of the Palestinian people for independence – but so do the US, EU and
Almost immediately, Medvedev said Moscow strongly opposes any
unilateral acts and that as a member of the Middle East Quartet believes that
negotiations are necessary and that the current framework of the Oslo
agreements, the road map and the Annapolis declaration is still
This last part was omitted by Arab commentators, who were quick
to adapt the message to their own dreams and ambitions.
Perhaps, if the
Russian president had also paid a visit to Jerusalem, some words of
clarification would have been pronounced and the whole thing would have gone
The Palestinian card is important to Russia, which is gaining
support and credibility in the Middle East. However, the Israeli card is equally
important, a member of the Russian delegation told The Jerusalem Post
. It’s hard
to imagine that the Kremlin would be among the first of the principals to
recognize Palestinian independence, but it’s fair to assume that it will not be
the last one either.