hamas rally 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Four days before the Quartet is scheduled to meet in Washington and discuss ways to "reenergize" the road map, a top Russian diplomat called on Tuesday for the lifting the international blockade of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.
According to the report, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov said Moscow would use the Quartet meeting to urge the lifting of the economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.
"Russia has always argued against the blockade and we expect the Quartet to listen to our view," Interfax quoted him as saying.
Both US and European diplomatic officials have told The Jerusalem Post in recent days that there was no intention in Washington or Brussels to water down the three criteria that the international community has set for granting legitimacy to the PA government: forswearing terrorism, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.
A senior Israeli diplomatic official said there was no reason to change the three principles, certainly after a Hamas spokesman said within hours of the Eilat suicide attack on Monday that it was a legitimate response to Israeli policies.
Russia disappointed Jerusalem last year by hosting Hamas leaders in Moscow soon after the Palestinian legislative elections, but made no progress in persuading the Islamist group to change its positions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in a related matter, said over the weekend that Iran and Syria should be included in any regional peace initiatives.
"It is my deep conviction that Iran and Syria should not be isolated and must be involved in the settlement process," Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax. This position conflicts with the positions of both Washington and Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, a report issued by Britain's Parliament on Tuesday said that the West's isolation of Hamas had caused the group to strengthen its ties with Iran.
According to the report, the international community had created a "dangerous situation" in which the Palestinian Authority was not responsible for its citizens. The report also called the current situation in the PA "unstable" and warned that the Western nations' refusal to talk with Hamas could have "negative results," Army Radio reported.