In Moscow, Hamas Officials Say Russia Promised to Oppose U.S. Peace Plan

Top Hamas official tells Haaretz that delegation timed Moscow visit alongside Trump envoys' Mideast trip

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a glass during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 9, 2016.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a glass during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 9, 2016.Credit: \ SERGEI KARPUKHIN/ REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

A delegation of senior Hamas officials discussed U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan and the situation in the Gaza Strip with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on Monday.

The head of the delegation, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, said Russian officials assured they would oppose the plan. "We agreed with the Russians that we won't allow the promotion of the deal of the century," Marzouk said. He added that the delegation will visit Iran after leaving Russia.

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A senior Hamas official in Gaza told Haaretz that the timing of the visit is not a coincidence; the meeting came as Trump's envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, toured the Middle East to discuss the peace plan with regional leaders.

“The Russians are a very central player in the Middle East, part of the Quartet and a permanent member of the [UN] Security Council, along with the direct links it has with all the players in the region, from Israel and the Palestinian Authority to Iran,” the official said.

“That’s why the meetings in Moscow will raise various issues, from the humanitarian situation in the Strip and the diplomatic moves the Americans are trying to lead, to the [Hamas-Fatah] reconciliation talks. Coordinating positions on these issues is very crucial to Hamas.”

The official said Hamas believes the Russians can get involved in two principle issues – the reconciliation issue and easing the siege on Gaza. “Our position is that the United States, in particular the current administration, cannot behave like the exclusive player in the region, essentially implementing Israel’s policy.”

Hamas issued a short statement on the meeting, noting that its relations with Russia had always been good and professional.

This is not Hamas’ first visit to meet Russian officials. In September another Hamas delegation headed by Marzouk visited Moscow and met with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Haaretz has learned that Palestinian Intelligence Chief Majid Faraj has gone to Cairo to meet with senior Egyptian officials, following the talks the U.S. delegation held with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi last week. He plans to get a report on those talks and also try to advance the intra-Palestinian reconciliation process.

Sources in Ramallah said they are not concerned by the position that Arab leaders presented in their talks with Kushner, saying the Arab position remains as was stated at the last Arab summit and is consistent with the Palestinian position that a solution to the Palestinian problem must be based on two states along the 1967 borders and the Arab Peace Initiative.

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