Russia ready to recognize Palestine: Lavrov

May 26, 2011 - 0:0

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has vowed to throw his weight behind recognition of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

“Every nation needs unity, or the more so the Palestinian people… (who are) striving to create a Palestinian state in accordance with UN resolutions, the Quartet of international mediators (the UN, the EU, Russia, and the U.S.), and the Arab peace initiative,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Lavrov voiced his support in a meeting with representatives of Hamas and Fatah in Moscow. The Palestinians and Russians later issued a joint statement.
The Russian foreign minister called the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal a historic event and urged the Palestinian factions to hash out the details of the unity pact and lay the groundwork for its implementation, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday.
In May leaders of the two main Palestinian factions signed a reconciliation deal in Egypt, paving the way for the creation of an interim unity government.
Palestinians take UN track
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that without a renewal of peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians will seek UN recognition.
Abbas's comments came a day after a major speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister.
“Our first choice is negotiations, but if there is no progress before September we will go to the United Nations,” Abbas said, slamming Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, which, he said, was devoid of any new incentive to restart peace talks.
The Palestinian leader said Netanyahu's speech only served to add obstacles on the road to peace and contained “errors and distortions”.
The Israeli prime minister, who addressed Congress on the last day of a trip to Washington, said he was willing to make “painful compromises” for peace.
But he ruled out a division of Beit-ul-Moqaddas (Jerusalem), the return of Palestinian refugees, and the possibility of using the borders that existed before 1967 as a basis for peace negotiations.
Talks with intransigent Israelis pointless
Senior Palestinian officials said this week that negotiations with Israel have become pointless after Israeli prime minister rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to base Mideast border talks on the pre-1967 war lines.
According to The Associated Press, Netanyahu’s stance only strengthened the Palestinian resolve to bypass such talks, largely deadlocked since 2008, and seek recognition of a state at the UN instead, said Nabil Shaath, an aide to Abbas.
U.S. President Barack Obama in a speech on Thursday laid out parameters for a Middle East peace deal. He stated that border talks must be held on the basis of Israel’s frontier in 1967, before it captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Beit-ul-Moqaddas (Jerusalem).
Since the speech, Abbas has been consulting by phone with Arab leaders, Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said.
The Palestinians want to establish their state in the territories Israel has occupied since the 1967 war. Recognition of the 1967 line as the starting point, while allowing for mutually agreed land swaps, has been a long-standing Palestinian demand.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said endorsing the pre-1967 cease-fire line was done in the hopes of dissuading the Palestinians from going ahead with their UN plan, AP reported.
Obama warned the Palestinians in his speech that their UN bid would be pointless and said he expected more explanations from Abbas about his reconciliation with the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.
Israel should end eviction of Palestinians
A senior UN humanitarian official says Israel should end the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said that the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes has had devastating, long-term ramifications, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The UN official made the comments in a New York news conference on Tuesday, following a four-day visit to the occupied territories of East Beit-ul-Moqaddas (Jerusalem) and the West Bank.
Though she stopped short of calling the situation a humanitarian crisis, Amos was intensely critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
“I met families evicted from their homes to make way for settler communities in the East Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas) neighborhoods ...they face daily harassments and threats from neighboring settlers. Attacks on Palestinians are rarely prosecuted,” Amos said.
The United Nations humanitarian emergency coordinator also defended the Palestinians' right to free and safe travel in order to develop their economy and reduce dependence on humanitarian assistance.
Amos emphasized that the illegal Israeli separation barrier has deprived Palestinians of basic services.
“Palestinians are frustrated by the impact of planning and zoning policies on their lives. They cannot move around freely, their homes are regularly demolished and they cannot develop their communities,” the top UN official added.
She also called on Israel to lift the almost four-year-long blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip.
As a result of the siege over a million Gazans are dependent on food aid, the UN official said.
Amos also touched on the Israeli shootings of unarmed Palestinians during Nakba Day demonstrations on May 15, saying that she and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had raised their objections to Tel Aviv over the incident.
This is while, despite letters from Iranian, Lebanese and Palestinian officials calling for a formal UN reaction to the shootings, none has occurred.
At least 25 people in southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Syria's occupied Golan heights were killed by Israeli fire on Nakba Day.
Many others were also wounded in the attack.
Nakba Day, or the day of catastrophe, marks the 63rd anniversary of the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli army and the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948.
Photo: Palestinian Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmed (R) laughs with Hamas member Mussa Abu Marzuk during a press conference in Moscow on May 24, 2011, one day after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Getty Images)