Palestinian source to Haaretz: Abbas deeply disappointed with Obama
Russian minister Lavrov endorses Fatah, Hamas reconciliation; Palestinian leaders fear Obama will not pressure Netanyahu to take steps toward peace.
The Palestinian Authority is deeply disappointed with U.S. President Barack Obama and feels the peace process is unlikely to move ahead in the next few months or even in the remaining two years of his term, unofficial Palestinian sources told Haaretz yesterday
Obama is a constant disappointment to the Palestinians and does not appear likely to pressure Netanyahu to make progress toward peace on the basis of the principles he himself stipulated when he spoke of a Palestinian state in 1967 borders with land swaps, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday praised the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, a deal that Obama called an "enormous obstacle" to peace in the Middle East.
A Hamas official said Lavrov, who hosted rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in Moscow yesterday, repeated Moscow's support for a Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations in September.
The Palestinian leaders arrived in Moscow a few days ago to continue their talks to reach a reconciliation deal and sort out the elections for Palestinian president and legislative council.
Palestinian officials told Haaretz the meeting in Moscow under President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's auspices was extremely important.
"The Russian support for the reconciliation agreement is very important to the Palestinians due to Russia's international status and its membership in the Middle East quartet," a Palestinian official said.
Obama's speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not mentioned directly at the meeting but Palestinian officials said they hoped Russia would support the agreement as well as act for the Palestinians in the international arena.
"We very much value your agreement," Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told members of Fatah, Hamas and other parties to the deal signed early this month in Cairo.
"All peoples need unity, not least the Palestinian people, who are justly seeking a solution to their task of creating a state," Lavrov said.
Obama said on Sunday the agreement "poses an enormous obstacle to peace. No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction."
Moscow has made a point of calling for the inclusion of Hamas in diplomacy, hosting its leaders and saying that isolating it is counterproductive.
Lavrov also welcomed the Palestinian plans for elections in October. The PA recently postponed the local balloting, which had been scheduled for July, gaining more time to organize voting in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Senior Palestinian officials are continuing their consultations with Arab officials following Obama's speech to AIPAC. However Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is visiting Amman, did not issue an official statement about it.
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas chose not to confront Obama in public, despite his dissatisfaction with the president's speech.
The Palestine news agency Wafa stressed parts of Obama's speech supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders.
PA leaders Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath were conducting intensive talks with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa ahead of the Arab Initiative Committee, which is scheduled to meet in Qatar on May 28, Palestinian sources said.
Moussa yesterday promised Shaath to take a firm stand against Netanyahu and what he called the groveling American stance vis-a-vis Israel.