ROAR: Palestinians “demonstrate independence” in Moscow

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
The UN Security Council will not support the plans of Palestinians to unilaterally declare independence, Russian analysts think.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has arrived in Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as the State of Palestine is stepping up efforts to achieve Russia’s support for its independence initiative.

The Palestinian authorities are preparing to ask the UN Security Council to endorse the independent Palestinian state in accordance with the June 1967 borders. The peace process “has come to a standstill due to Israel’s obstinacy,” they say.

“Palestinian autonomy demonstrates its independence in Moscow, but does not rely on unconditional support,” Kommersant daily said. Moscow believes that the initiative of the Palestinian authorities is “untimely,” the paper said.

“According to common opinion, the unilateral declaration of independence will not lead to something positive,” the daily added. It quoted Andrey Nesterenko, official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, as saying that “the optimal way is, of course, dialogue and talks.”

Palestinians want a halt to settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem before the dialogue is resumed, but Israel has threatened to freeze negotiations if Palestinians unilaterally declare independence.

Some Israeli ministers said that “after Palestinians launch the process of declaring independence, Israel will annex part of the territories on the West Bank with Jewish settlements,” Kommersant said.

Russia is not interested in freezing negotiations, Kommersant said, adding that in this situation the results of the Palestinian foreign minister’s visit to Moscow “are quite predictable.” Russia will not go farther than traditional assurances about “the invariability of its principal position” to support the creation of the Palestinian state, it said.

“It seems that al-Maliki himself does not believe too much in the success of his mission,” the daily said. “Analysts think that the Palestinians need the idea of a unilateral declaration of independence to attract the attention of the international community to their problems and to increase pressure on Israel,” it added.

“The promise of the head of the Palestinian autonomy Mahmoud Abbas to leave his post and politics has been made for the same purpose,” the paper said. It added that the plan has partly worked, and some countries of the European Union stressed the need to officially declare East Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state, the paper said.

Foreign ministers of EU countries called on December 8 for talks on the status of Jerusalem as a “future capital of the two states.”

Al-Maliki welcomed the EU decision, but stressed that the only way to overcome the deadlock in talks is to adopt a new UN resolution on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The resolution may determine future boundaries of the state, he said.

Izvestia daily described the new move of the Palestinian authorities to declare independence on the unilateral basis as “unexpected.” Georgy Mirsky of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations explained the move by “the inability of Palestinians not only to come to an agreement with Israel, but also between themselves.”

“The conversations about unilateral declaration of independence are, in some way, blackmail staged for Americans,” Mirsky said. “If Israel announces the abrogation of all agreements with Palestinians, first of all US President Barack Obama will find himself in a difficult situation,” the analyst said.

Obama has tried to lead the negotiating process out of the deadlock, Mirsky said. So, Palestinian faction Fatah “is trying to exert pressure on the US” to make it influence Israel, he noted. Mirsky also added that one should not take Abbas’s statements about leaving politics “all in good faith.”

The Hamas movement that has been controlling the Gaza Strip for more than two years does not support the plans of the Palestinian authorities, Kommersant stressed. The representatives of the movement said they did not need someone’s recognition of the independence of the Palestinian land, the paper noted.

The Palestinian initiative “is unlikely to find understanding among permanent members of the UN Security Council,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta said. Russia will hold talks with Palestinians, but without supporting their move, Yelena Melkumyan of Russian State University for the Humanities told the paper.

“The Israeli foreign minister visited Moscow recently, and statements have been made about strengthening bilateral relations,” she said. “If Russia supported [the move of] Palestinians, it would be considered as anti-Israeli action,” the analyst added.

The only thing that Palestinians may achieve now is the strengthening of pressure on Israel from international mediators, Melkumyan said. As for Americans, they also believe that the Palestinian state should be created through dialogue and talks, she added.

According to Melkumyan, Palestinians want their state, like Israel, to be created by a UN decision. They decided to address the UN “because the process of the creation of the independent state came to a deadlock,” she said. “There is no progress, and they are losing international support,” she said.

Another problem is the lack of unity among Palestinians, Melkumyan said. They decided to address the UN before the elections in the autonomy, “but they will unlikely achieve success,” the analyst added.

However, the Palestinian authorities believe the declaration of independence may be “a formality because all state institutions have already been created,” Kommersant daily said.

At the same time, Maksim Minaev, analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, described al-Maliki’s visit to Russia as “a tactical move aimed at keeping operative contacts between Moscow and the Palestinian autonomy.”

In the current conditions the dialogue between the two parties “comes down to discussing problems of bilateral cooperation and issues of the Middle East peaceful settlement,” the analyst said. Another factor that affects the talks in Moscow is the need “to clarify the situation with new Palestinian leadership,” Minaev said.

Analysts noted that the possibility of holding a peaceful conference in Russia on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been missed. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who visited Moscow three days before al-Maliki, does not see the possibility of holding a peaceful conference in Moscow in the near future.

“The Palestinian side absolutely ignores the peaceful process and is involved in solving internal problems,” Lieberman told Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. He believes the main task for Abbas now is “not to achieve peaceful agreement with Israel, but to destroy Hamas.”

Al-Maliki said that the conference in Moscow has not been held because of “the weakness of the international community which failed to fulfill its decisions on the Middle East settlement.”

At the conference in Annapolis in November 2007, it was decided to hold a conference in Moscow to “register success at the talks on a peaceful settlement,” al-Maliki told Vremya Novostey daily. “But no success followed,” and the conference was delayed, he said. "However, if Israeli-Palestinian talks resume, this conference may still be held in Russia,” he added.

Sergey Borisov, RT