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Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow for talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due in Moscow for talks with President Putin. His Fatah faction is under increasing strain as it struggles with rival Hamas for control of the Palestinian Autonomy. And as tensions grow, many Palestinians are beginni

In an exclusive interview to RT Arabic language sister, channel Rusiya Al-Yaum, Mahmoud Abbas said action needs to be taken in conjunction with international partners, including Russia.

“For sure, we live in a very difficult time, in a very difficult situation. We have to take some active steps in order to overcome this crisis. It is only natural and timely for us to visit Russia at this time. Our relations with Russia have always been good. We should always co-ordinate our efforts with our Russian friends- President Putin and the Foreign Ministry-and exchange our views because we have close ties with Russia. Russia plays a major role in international affairs, and it’s a member of the Middle East quartet. Our visit is important, as it will afford an opportunity to share and hear each other’s views. God willing, we will work out some joint decisions,” Mahmoud Abbas stressed.

Soldiers, guns and nightly raids are almost commonplace in Nablus, one of the largest Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Clashes between rival factions Hamas and Fatah dominate the headlines. Almost daily, another casualty is reported. Frequent incursions by Israeli soldiers add to the instability, threatening to explode the chaos.

In the first month we are all afraid. We didn’t go out of our homes, we didn’t look out of the windows or go out to the veranda. Now it’s very easy for us to see them – we drive in-between the soldiers, to hide from them. We use the cell phones telling – Israeli soldiers in this street, Israeli soldiers in that street.

Nasser Sherkas,
west Bank resident

But behind the news, ordinary people caught up in the madness are trying to live a normal life. Nasser Sherkas studied engineering in Bulgaria. He is married and has a one-month-old child. He’s not optimistic his son will live to see a different city.

More and more Palestinians are asking themselves if change is possible. Among the proposals being put forward to this problem is an old solution. Some 4,000 Lenin followers, dreaming of Marx’s utopia in the refugee camps of the West Bank, have signed up for the local Palestinian Communist Party.

“All over the world there is a rebirth of communist parties. Ours is an example of this. There are many people who believe in Marxist ideology, and maybe Marxist thought can change the world for the better,” suugests Suhel Salman, the party head.

With the possibility of new Palestinian elections around the corner, a number of high-ranking Palestinian figures have been holding urgent discussions over the past few weeks. They’re looking at forming a new political party that would capitalise on the negative image of both Hamas and Fatah.

Among those looking for a new reality are Palestinian businessmen and politicians including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Moscow is yet another attempt to find a solution.

But people on the ground seem to have had enough. They’re looking for a solution they’re not even aware of. A solution that would involve a new brand of leadership to help heal their fractured society.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has thanked President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for agreeing to a massive increase in aid to Israel. The Prime Minister confirmed the deal at his weekly ministerial meeting in Jerusalem. The aid increase is being widely viewed as an effort by the U.S. to dispel Israeli concerns over a large arms deal the U.S. is preparing for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Mr Olmert says the funding will improve security.

“During my last meeting with the U.S. President we made a private agreement that the aid will be $US 30 BLN for ten years, meaning an average sum of $US 3 BLN per year. As I already said, this is more than a 25 per cent increase in the aid given up to and including this year,” he said.