Russia Says Trump's Mideast Peace Plan Will Foil All Palestinian Gains

Russian FM laments Trump's failure to include Palestinian state in blueprint ■ Abbas in Riyadh to combat deal ■ PLO secretary general sends letter to foreign diplomats urging them not to endorse plan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, center, talking during a meeting with representatives of Palestinian groups and movements in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
Pavel Golovkin,AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has attacked the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that the Trump administration is working on, saying it would destroy the Palestinians' achievements to date in the Middle East.

Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting in Moscow with representatives of Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, Lavrov said President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century, a plan that has not been formally presented yet, does not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

>> Read more: Arab leaders asked U.S. not to reveal Mideast peace plan, Palestinians sayThe state of Trump's peace plan 

The lack of a diplomatic horizon and the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was worrying, especially in light of the position Washington is taking, the foreign minister said, adding that the internal Palestinian split between Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza, gave the United States an excuse to promote a peace plan that does not improve upon previously signed agreements.

“Ending the split will strengthen the position of Russia and the international community, supporting a diplomatic solution based on decisions of the international community,” Lavrov said. “There are countries that don’t see an end to the division and therefore conclude that without it, the two-state solution has become mission impossible.” 

Despite the importance that Lavrov has attributed to Palestinian unity, the Russians made it clear at the meeting that they would not take part in Palestinian reconciliation talks. Egypt would remain the sponsor of reconciliation efforts, despite the lack of progress on that score, the Russian foreign minister said.

Letter from the PLO secretary general 

In a related development, Haaretz obtained a letter sent this week by the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, to the foreign diplomats serving in the Palestinian Authority, calling on them not to support steps that the Trump administration takes in the run–up to the release of its peace plan, including the Middle East conference in Warsaw this week.

“The attempts by the Trump administration at legitimizing Israeli crimes and violations as well as endorsing Israeli policies and narrative, including by illegally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, defunding UNRWA, legitimizing settlements, cutting all humanitarian and development aid to the Palestinian people, closing the Palestinian mission in Washington as well as the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and dangerously justifying such policies using a religious narrative, have done nothing but to strengthen extremists in our region, further harming the prospects of security and stability for the Arab world and the rest of the world,” Erekat stated in the letter. “The question of Palestine remains an unfulfilled test for the international community in regards to its commitment to international law.”

Erekat called instead for the “convening of an international peace conference based on international law and relevant UN resolutions” and said that "participation [in] this conference would include Israel and Palestine as well as all international stakeholders, including Arab countries.”

He advocated implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative that the Arab League endorsed in 2002, “including by securing a just and agreed solution for the issue of Palestinian refugees based on [UN General Assembly] Resolution 194 [of 1948], in addition to [recognition of] the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.” Only then, Erekat added, could "any agenda for normalization between the Arab World and the State of Israel” be advanced.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Tuesday with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh. As Haaretz has reported, the Palestinian leadership is working preemptively to ensure that Arab and Muslim countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, don’t support Trump’s peace plan. According to a Palestinian report, Abbas briefed the Saudi king on Palestinian diplomatic developments.