Palestinian National Authority head Mahmoud Abbas: I am ready to meet with Netanyahu any time
Palestinian National Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has given an interview to Interfax ahead of a visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Palestine, in which he speaks about Moscow‘s effort to organize Palestine-Israeli negotiations and prospects of an international conference on the Middle East settlement and expressed hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will in the near future visit Palestine.Q.: Mr. Abbas, you are going to hold negotiations with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. What issues are you going to discuss? What are expectations fr om the meeting? Will the issue of Palestinian-Israeli settlement be touched upon?
A.: This is not the first visit of Dmitry Medvedev to Palestine. Meetings between the Palestinian and Russian leadership regularly take place. The current visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is paid against the backdrop of the ongoing coordination between our countries in various regional and international aspects and consultations on ways to promote the political process with the help of President Putin‘s initiative and to convene an international peace conference before the end of this year.
The joint intergovernmental Palestinian-Russian commission promoted the successful signing of a number of agreements to exchange and promote investment, in various economic spheres and other agreements. A number of agreements will also be signed between the relevant parties of both countries during this visit.
A ceremony for opening a street named after Russian Prime Minister Medvedev will also take place.
We expect that Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon come on a visit in order to open a large multifunctional center that will be named after President Putin.
Q.: In early autumn the issue of your meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow was actively discussed. Is this issue still on the agenda? If so, when such a meeting may be held? What is the reason for which direct negotiations have take place yet?
A.: We are ready to respond to President Putin‘s appeal for a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu any time. On September 8, 2016, we accepted the initiative of President Vladimir Putin to confer at a tripartite meeting in Moscow but Mr. Netanyahu postponed that conference.
Q.: The Israeli side said that the negotiations may be held not only in Moscow, but also in particular in Luxembourg. What‘s your attitude to such suggestions? What are the main points of President Putin‘s initiative about the Palestinian-Israeli settlement? How do you evaluate it?
A.: President Putin has a perceptive vision, and Russia under his leadership has a great international authority. We respect and appreciate the international role of Russia and we would like Russia to play an even bigger role in the Middle East, but it is Mr. Netanyahu who has been avoiding meetings and conferences. The initiative of President Putin to hold a meeting in Moscow is aimed at creating an appropriate atmosphere for any consequent negotiating process, including the convocation of an international conference.
Q.: Do you think that one can say goodbye to the format of the ‘Quartet‘ of international mediators? What main obstacles for resumption of the talks do you see? What can revive the peace process?
A.: The current Israeli government is evading responsibility and hopes to win time to intensify its settlement activities and destroy the two-state solution. Such practice of the Israeli authorities has reduced to nothing the efforts of the Middle Eastern Quartet. That is why we are saying it is necessary to increase the number of participating states by adding new states to the Arab countries and to call an international conference that will come up with a mechanism similar to the 5+1 mechanism and will determine the upper time limit for negotiations and the implementation of decisions.
Q.: How do you evaluate the current situation in Syria? What ways to overcome the crisis do you see? Don‘t you think that nowadays the Palestinian-Israeli settlement is not in a spotlight for international community compared to Syrian crisis?
A.: The situation in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq occupies a big place in the sphere of international diplomacy influence and it requires finding political solutions to the crises in the region. We are against terrorism acting on behalf of religion, we are against violence and terror in all its formats and manifestations.
We are saying that our region will not calm down until the Palestinian issue is resolved and all international decisions and resolutions aimed at ensuring that the people of Palestine live in freedom and independence are implemented. Everyone knows that.
Q.: When may Russian President Vladimir Putin visit Palestine? It was reported earlier that such a visit is scheduled for early 2017. Has the date of the visit been already set? Do you plan to visit Russia soon?
A.: We have invited President Putin to visit Palestine and we hope this visit will take place in the near future. We, for our part, maintain contacts and we visit Russia annually for consultations and exchange of opinions of various regional and international issues and on the strengthening of bilateral relations
I once again invite President Putin to visit Palestine, wh ere he will be a big and dear guest to our Palestinian people and his visit will be a wonderful opportunity to open a big culture, economics and artistic multifunctional center in Palestine.