Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal: Palestine wants to create new ways of settling the Palestinian-Israeli issue
Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal has given an interview to Interfax correspondent Veronika Vishnyakova ahead of a visit of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Russia in which he speaks about the main topics of the upcoming Russian-Palestinian summit, prospects for the Palestinian-Israeli settlement and the initiative of creating a new mediating mechanism for the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.Question: Mr. Ambassador, what subjects will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the leaders of Russia and Palestine during the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Sochi?
Answer: The main objective, the main question is the situation in the Middle East, our relations with the Israelis, and the statement of President [Donald] Trump to move embassy to Jerusalem. It is on the one hand. And on the other hand after that it was fr om our side officially announced that no more possibility for the United States to lead the negotiations between us the Israelis and we are in the process to find, to create a new coalition, a new mechanism to lead the negotiations between us and the Israelis, because we are committed to the peace process, and here in discussion with [President Vladimir] Putin we will focus on Russia‘s future role in this process. We believe that Russia can play a very important role in this issue, because since long time Russia is speaking about an international approach, really important, to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It is a good time to discuss these issues, the possibilities, the ways which could resolve it and how to start that.
Q.: Would Palestine like Russia to play a leading role in this international mediatiation mechanism?
A.: The question is as following because of the special relations between the United States and Israel. Any arrangement should be engaging, should include the United States on this issue, not exclude. Therefore we are thinking about it even now with the Russian side, we discussed this question. We believe that this restrained if we can enroll the Big Five, I mean Russia, the United States, Europe (France and the UK), China plus the United Nations. There are different ways to discuss, and I don‘t want to speak about all details of this issue it must be on our president. The idea is to create a new coalition, the idea is to create new ways of regulating the Palestinian-Israeli issue, because from our side, as Palestine, we believe that the United States tools their side with Israel, and they no more have a possibility to lead the negotiations.
Q.: So, how many countries may become parts of such a mechanism?
A.: There are different ways. One way is the quartet which includes Europe, Russia, China, the United States and the United Nations. Other thing is the Big Five – the Security Council [permanent members] plus the United Nations. There are different ways. For us, as I mentioned before, we believe that no more the United States can possibly lead these negotiations, and there is an appeal to the international community to answer this question and we believe that Russia may possibly have the role in the region to do something in this issue.
Q.: Am I right to understand that the Middle East Quartet is dead for Palestine and that is why the need for a new mechanism has arisen?
A.: Yes. And the problem is that after 35 years of negotiations even with the Quartet wh ere the Americans were leading the negotiations, and we got stuck with everything after 35 years of negotiations. They only continue their expansion policy, continue their settlement policy. Finally, they withdrew from the two-state solution. Therefore the international community should find other ways to lead these negotiations.
Q.: Is there any timeframe for implementing the initiative of establishing a new mediating mechanism?
A.: We don‘t know the timeframe. We know that the situation in the area is very dangerous. The situation is a big problem. No one knows what will happen therefore as soon as possible the international community should meet our needs and increase its role as soon as possible. Otherwise we will open gates to many problems – terror and other things. Therefore we believe that the international community should take more responsibility towards this question and try to cover the lack of the American position.
Q.: The United States has decided to decrease the funding of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Would Palestine like Russia to give assistance to the organization?
A.: First of all, for us, Palestine, Jerusalem is not all the same, which means any pressure from Americans or the other side on the UNRWA and salaries, there is no way. But there is an appeal to the international community to cover the lack of the finance from the United States and some European countries are answering positively on this issue. We hope for and we appreciate any support from the Russian side on this issue.