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Russia recognises Abbas’s leadership

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,” Sergey Lavrov said to Mahmoud Abbas.    

Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with President Putin for the first time since Hamas seized control of Gaza splitting the Palestinian territories. After bloody clashes in June, the Palestinian Autonomy is split into two adversarial parts. The Gaza strip is now controlled by the Hamas movement, while their rivals Fatah are in control of the West Bank. The trip to Moscow is a chance for Mahmoud Abbas to prove he remains the only leader of Palestine.

Russia was the first of the Middle East mediators to invite the Hamas leaders after their landslide victory in last year's elections. Although the visit didn't produce any significant decisions, it proved Moscow was a place where all parties in the Middle East could come to seek resolution.

The question is how the hardliners from Hamas will react to the Palestinian leader's visit and his recent ambitious proposal. Mahmoud Abbas says a peace treaty with Israel is possible within a year, something that no one expected to hear while the violence in the Autonomy continues.

Mahmoud Abbas has three days to convince Moscow there is a genuine hope for peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine, as well as for a united Palestinian state.

There is a new impetus to find a solution to the age-old conflict. The appointment of Tony Blair as a special envoy and the re-engagement of the U.S., underline the importance of Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Meanwhile, leaders from rival Palestinian faction Hamas have announced their intention to visit Moscow. That is according to a senior spokesman for the group.