Putin Proposes to Host Netanyahu, Abbas for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Summit, Lavrov Says

According to Russian foreign minister, the president told Israeli leader he has 'interest in overcoming deadlock' on Middle East peace 'as soon as possible'

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File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow, February 27, 2019.
File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow, February 27, 2019.Credit: Maxim Shemetov/AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed in his Wednesday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow to host him and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a summit on the Middle East peace process, Russia's top diplomat said on Monday, with the aim of "resuming direct dialogue without any preconditions."

According to excerpts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir posted on the official Twitter account of the Russian embassy in Israel, Netanyahu and Putin discussed "the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement," and Russian leader "reaffirmed our position on Russia's interest in overcoming the deadlock in this matter as soon as possible."

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Lavrov said both Israeli and Palestinian leaders expressed some interest in such a proposal, without commenting on whether any party accepted it. "We believe that it would be at least a very important step in restoring confidence," Lavrov added. "Without this, it is impossible to count on further progress in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement."

Following Netanyahu's meeting with Putin, the Israeli leader said "the direct link between us … contributes to security and stability in the region," stating the two mostly discussed Iranian activity in Syria and the S-300 air defense-system that Russia delivered to Syria in September. Putin also said the two mostly spoke about security issues, adding that he had accepted Netanyahu's invitation to visit Jerusalem.

As the U.S. administration is said to be inching closer to publish its much anticipated peace plan, Russia seeks to remain involved in negotiations. Last month, Lavrov attacked U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed plan, saying it would destroy the Palestinians' achievements to date in the Middle East.

Speaking at a meeting in Moscow with representatives of Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, Lavrov said 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.

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.

In April 2017 the Russian Foreign Ministry issued an unusual statement, saying for the first time that in the event of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, West Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. The statement said that Moscow is "deeply concerned about the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," including the complete absence of negotiations and the deterioration of the situation on the ground.