Russia urges Palestine to return captured Israeli soldier

The Russian leader is rounding off his tour to the Middle East. During the meeting in Jordan with the Palestinian President, he urged Mahmoud Abbas to abide by agreements and return the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

At his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas President Putin said Israeli-Palestine conflict was on the agenda during the whole Middle East tour.

“Wherever we have gone during this tour, we have always started our talks with the Middle East and finished them with the Middle East. I know how difficult it was for you recently. With great concern we have observed what was going on in Palestine – a conflict within Palestinian society. We are happy that the King of Saudi Arabia was able not just to gather round the table all the parties concerned, but also to play the role of a mediator, so that the parties could reach a deal,” Mr Putin stressed.

“The deals struck should be observed inside Palestine so that they can later lead to a future settlement with Israel. It would be of great importance to hand over the Israeli soldier captured earlier. You know that Russia plays an active part in the Quartet of the international mediators. We will remain committed to this work based on our special relations with Arab countries and the Palestinian nation,” said the Russian President.

The Palestinian leadership hopes that Russia will support its new Unity government that will be formed in the next few days.

Russia Today political commentator Peter Lavelle pointed out that the Russian President has met the Palestinian leader to give Mahmoud Abbas some support. To give him a mandate, some legitimacy, as his power is limited by the strong presence of rival Hamas on the political scene.

Peter Lavelle underscored that “Hamas is a political reality and President Abbas knows it better than anybody else”.

He defended the initiative of Russian authorities to invite a Hamas delegation to Moscow last year as “Hamas slowly but surely if you read the fine print, if you read the body language they are working together with Fatah. They know they have to work together. And more than anything they know they need Western aid to make sure that the Palestinian authority can function.”

The Russia Today political commentator has also stressed that Jordan is trusted by many in the Middle East and could easily be selected as a place of the conference on the solution of its problems proposed by Putin earlier.

Earlier Vladimir Putin held talks with King Abdullah II on a Middle East solution.

Russian President’s visit to Jordan was part of his 3 day tour of the Middle East and included meetings in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Russian and Jordanian leaders gave a joint press conference in Jordan’s capital, Amman. 

The Russian President emphasised that he had found common ground with leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan during his tour of the countries.

“Meetings with the leaders of 3 states have confirmed unanimity of views concerning the complicated processes underway. With regards to the priorities of Russia in the Middle East, they focus on promoting the establishment of peace, stability and security in the region. Promoting the search for such solutions would meet the interests of the peoples residing here. Implementation of this task is only possible if efforts are put by the Middle East countries themselves first, with delicate participation of other representors of the World community,” noted Mr Putin.

“We have analysed in detail the status of the Russia-Jordan relations. We issued a statement on the deepening of co-operation and protection of capitals. These are necessary for dialogue between the two countries. We have been developing contacts in the humanitarian sphere. I am happy to tell you that this year in Amman there’ll be a resumption of Russian Saturday of Science and Culture. The Russian-Arab protocol interaction is also becoming more and more lateral, concerning all problems facing the Middle East,” he also stressed. 

King Abdullah II of Jordan said Russia was a key player in helping to resolve conflicts in the Middle East.

“Our countries enjoy excellent relations and we in Jordan look forward to continued co-operation with Russia. During our meeting His Excellency and I discussed many points of common interest, especially concerning co-operation in the economic field. A number of important agreements were signed, including an agreement for the promotion and protection of investments and on the establishment of a joint business council between the Amman and Moscow Chambers of Industry and Commerce. We also discussed the regional and global security issue. We in Jordan particularly value Russia’s contribution to security in the Middle East. We are witnessing a unique opportunity to restart the effort to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace. As a member of the Quartet, Russia has an important role to play. I expressed to the President the importance of resolving the core conflict in our region – the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the importance of the Quartet's support for the Arab peace initiative. President Putin and I agreed negotiations towards the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state should be accelerated,” said King Abdullah II. 

“We also discussed our shared concerns about Iraq and expressed our mutual commitment to help in ensuring Iraq’s unity, stability, and security. We also talked about international tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. We continue to believe that a diplomatic solution to the crisis must be found. Russia and Jordan also have an agreement on the need to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,” he added.

Evgeny Satanovsky, an analyst at the Institute of Middle East Studies in Moscow, shared with Russia Today his views on Russia's role in the Middle East.

“We have some absolutely unique experience which other countries of the West have not. We have more then 1,000 years of normal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists in our own country. The majority of the Muslim generation in Europe or America are immigrants; they have a lot of conflicts and a lot of troubles and misunderstanding. Of course historically we also had all this, but during something like 1,000 years we knew how to work in between different ethnical groups and religions without wars and without conflicts. That’s very important and Russian diplomacy bases on this know-how which is really unique,” he said.

In the press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the need to take a broader approach, to involve more countries, in order to establish security in the Middle East.

Mr Satanovsky commented on that: “First of all I think that question about involvement of the regional players, because we remember the time of the Big Game, when the Russian Empire and British Empire, then Soviet Union and the United States played some role of competitors in the Middle East. But just now it is impossible to work in the region without Arab states, Iran, Israel who are also players; they are no more figures in this game.”