Top Palestinian officials from both Hamas and Fatah are conducting meetings with members of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the coming days at a guesthouse near Moscow, according to a report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
The meetings are reportedly being conducted under the auspices of the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the help of a Russian foundation for science and Islamic culture.
The Palestinian representatives were invited to Moscow by the head of the university, Vitaly Numkin, who is also heading the meetings, according to ITAR-TASS. The meetings are reportedly intended to solidify ties between the two recently reconciled factions. An additional stated goal is finding a common ground for Hamas and Fatah to begin possible negotiations with Israel, the report said.
Former rivals Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal in Cairo earlier this month, a step that many view as crucial to establishing a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. However, the factions still disagree on many core issues. West Bank-based Fatah has adopted diplomatic means toward statehood, while Gaza-based Hamas has engaged in terror warfare against Israel and refuses to recognize its right to exist.
Experts believe this is the first time in recent history that Russia has taken an active measure to assist the Middle East peace process, making the initiative to bring the factions together a significant step for the country.
Meetings are to take place Sunday and Monday, with the Palestinian representatives meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.
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