Interview with Aleksey Malashenko
Russia Today: What are the main challenges facing the Middle East Peace Quartet?
Aleksey Malashenko: I think that the main challenge now is that the quartet deals not with the Middle East conflict but with the conflict between the two Palestinian factions. It's a great obstacle for everyone who wants to do something there. Besides it is connected with the problem of Hamas, a faction which controls approximately 40% of the Palestinian population. Indeed, it is a real political force – what to do with Hamas, how to deal with Hamas and what are its perspectives – these are the main challenges now.
RT: What is the quartet doing to try and restart the Middle East peace plan?
A.M.: I think the question is the continuation of the first one. The main problem here is how to deal with the two faces of Palestine – the face of Fatah, the moderate secular nationalist organisation, which has a deep experience how to work with the West and Russia, and the face of a political newcomer, Hamas, an islamist organisation. It is a problem for the quartet now. They need to decide whether they want to play the role of a mediator between the two rivals or they want to eliminate Hamas from the peace process. Here there are distinctions between the Russian and the American stances, because, as we know, Russia doesn't want to recognise Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
RT: How is Tony Blair's appointment as envoy to the quartet viewed in the region?
A.M.: It's a very good question, indeed, to which I don't know the answer yet. We have to wait. Tony Blair needs to show his professionalism in this conflict, which is difficult. I think he has two options. Whether he will try to continue the line of the road map, or he will suggest something else. In any case, we have to wait for September when the next Peace-in-the-Middle-East conference will take place.