Egypt: Russia's Putin Willing to Host Israeli, Palestinian Peace Talks

'The Russian president has informed me that he has invited Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu for a meeting in Moscow,' Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi says.

Netanyahu and Abbas
Netanyahu and Abbas. AP

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed a willingness to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks in Moscow, Egyptian media reported on Monday.

Sissi's remarks came as Israeli and Palestinians officials reported unsuccessful efforts on the part of European officials to try and arrange a similar summit.

"The Russian president has informed me that he has invited Palestinian President [Abbas] and Prime Minister Netanyahu for a meeting in Moscow," Sissi said.

"Egypt supports these efforts and both sides are urged to participate and respond positively to the initiative for the sake of finding light at the end of the tunnel for Palestinians and establishing their state alongside Israel."

According to Sissi, "Egypt's relationship with both sides, Israelis and the Palestinians, permit it to play a central role in the attempt to renew the diplomatic process." Nonetheless, he said, Egypt cannot be solely responsible, but will rather be "that which convinces the sides that if peace will be attained light will shine on the entire region."

Sissi, who spoke with the editors of three newspapers considered to be pro-regime, including Al-Aharam, described the stalemate in peace efforts as "quiet waters in a swamp," and that "there is need for change if there is a mutual desire by both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, as well as the international community."

Sissi said that in recent years Egypt has supported attempts to advance peace efforts, especially those led by the U.S. Egypt, he said, still supports the 2001 Saudi peace initiative, as well as the more recent French plan.

He saw a Palestinian political rift as a major obstacle to an agreement. "We must bring about an end to the stalemate in the peace process," but to do so "requires international Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and within Fatah too."

When asked if he thought there was a change in Israel's position about diplomacy with the Palestinians,  Sissi replied that he thought Israel increasingly understood that an accord is necessary for its own sake, and that he thought this was a positive sign.

Israeli, Palestinian negotiations last broke down in 2014. Egypt has long played an intermediary role, ever since becoming the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.