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Abbas gets Russia's backing as Palestinian leader

Russia has come out firmly in support of Mahmoud Abbas as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov strongly backed the Palestinian President, whose Fatah party was ousted from Gaza following internal clashes with Ham

“We strongly support you as the legitimate leader of all Palestinians. We support your efforts to recover stability, to recover the unity of the Palestinian people and the peace process. We will discuss how Russia can help your people and your administration. I'm confident that your meeting with President Putin on Tuesday will help to find ways for further co-operation as regards both our bilateral relations and the Middle East settlement,” Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to Mahmoud Abbas.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Miniter
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Miniter

Last week the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, told Sergey Lavrov that he saw no obstacles to holding peace talks between Fatah and Hamas.

Speaking to Russia Today, Mahmoud Abbas
said that he believes “Hamas has committed a coup d'etat against the legitimacy; they should return everything to how it all was before, and after that the dialogue will be possible”.

There have been reports the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered to establish a Palestinian state on most of the territory of Gaza and the West Bank, with the capital to be in East Jerusalem, in exchange for retaining Jewish settlements.

“I can admit that there is some sort of progress concerning the current issues. We have to wait and meet with Mr Olmert and after that we will see whether there is an offer or not,” Mr Abbas noted.

Palestinians themselves seem to be as divided as ever. But with the support of outsiders, Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to see the Palestinian people re-unified under his leadership.

Mr Abbas hopes his meeting with President Putin, along with Russia's historic ties with the Arab world, might help find a way out of what he called political dead-end.

At the beginning it should be settled between the parties themselves, but of course there will be a need for the interference of the international community,

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President

The visit to Moscow was planned earlier, but the Palestinian president had to cancel his plans when Hamas took over Gaza. Today the Palestinian autonomy is split in two, and Russia is the only country of the Middle East Quartet that maintains direct contacts with both Fatah and Hamas.

It has been a source of some irritation for Israel and some of the Western countries. According to Mahmoud Abbas, Russia has always played the role of mediator in the peace process and possesses considerable influence in the Middle East and it was this influence that he came for.