Sunday, April 14

Opening remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting with representatives of Palestinian political forces, Moscow, February 29, 2024

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Dear colleagues,

Friends,

Welcome to Moscow. I am glad to have a new opportunity to talk with representatives of the leadership of all major Palestinian organizations. We have a long-standing and close relationship.

Five years have passed since the meeting in this format. The coronavirus pandemic intervened, but now there are no such obstacles. The relevance of contacts in such a composition has increased dramatically.

The dynamics of the situation in the region and in the world should stimulate us to more active, productive and constructive contacts. We are ready for this. In the light of the recent dramatic events in the occupied Palestinian territories, such a format of interaction is becoming even more in demand and relevant. I hope you also feel the benefits of such communication.

The Gaza Strip has been engulfed by an unprecedented wave of violence. In many ways, this was the result of a long stagnation in the Middle East settlement process, due to the attempts of the United States to monopolize mediation efforts, stop the work of the “quartet” of international mediators (the United States, Russia, the EU, the United Nations) and promote policies that they consider necessary for themselves. The United States does not pay attention to the interests of the countries of the region, which have been distorted and not satisfied for many years.

The tragic events of recent months have claimed the lives of 30 thousand people. The vast majority of them are civilians, many of them women and children. The number of wounded has exceeded 70 thousand people, most of them are also women and children. The scale of the humanitarian disaster is growing.

The UN Senior Humanitarian Coordinator in Gaza informed the UN Security Council about the current situation. The numbers are depressing. Approximately 700,000 people out of 2.4 million Gazans are on the verge of starvation.

Of course, the main priority is to stop the bloodshed. We have been doing this since the first days after the attack on October 7, 2023. It caused our condemnation. But it is impossible to react to it by methods of collective punishment of the Palestinians.

On October 15, 2023, Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding a ceasefire. This project, as well as subsequent efforts in this direction, were consistently blocked by the United States, which repeatedly used the right of veto. Any attempts to adopt a resolution demanding a sustainable ceasefire have so far failed. On February 20, 2024, a similar fate befell the initiative of our friends from Algeria.

What is happening in Gaza clearly confirms what we have been warning all our partners in the Middle East about for many years. It was said that the recurrence of large-scale confrontation and outbreaks of violence in the region will inevitably be repeated until, through joint efforts, we can eliminate the underlying cause of this long-term conflict. Namely, to solve the task of creating a Palestinian state in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The Palestinians must exercise their right to establish a State within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Only such an approach – fair, based on international law – can lead to sustainable peace in the region.

We have repeatedly advocated resuming direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, which has been blocked for a number of reasons beyond the control of the Russian Federation and our Palestinian friends. You are well aware of these efforts. So far they have not brought results.

One of the pretexts for postponing and postponing these negotiations is the lack of unity in the Palestinian ranks. Skeptics argued that it was impossible to negotiate when it was unknown who was speaking on behalf of the Palestinians. I’m talking about this frankly now. We discussed this idea with you five years ago, as well as during other contacts. All this was considered and worked out.

Jesus Christ was born in Palestine. One of his sayings says: “A house divided by itself will not stand.” Both Muslims and Christians revere Christ. I think this quote perfectly reflects the problem of restoring Palestinian unity. It does not depend on anyone except the Palestinians themselves. No one can create artificial obstacles in this way. It is important to realize this. I hope that our efforts to hold such meetings and provide you with a platform for dialogue will help you move in this direction.

It is clear that the effectiveness of our efforts will depend on whether everyone can put the interests, goals and fate of the Palestinian people above the current nuances and discrepancies in positions and approaches. If you announce such a step – the restoration of Palestinian unity on the platform of the Palestine Liberation Organization, it will knock the “trump cards” out of the hands of those forces that, referring to internal problems in the Palestinian territories, used them to delay the Middle East settlement process. There are also forces using the tragic events in Gaza to “cement” the fragmentation and disunity of the Palestinian territories.

We are aware of numerous confidential contacts between individual countries in the region. The United States is trying in every possible way to assume the role of chief negotiator again. But as far as we can judge from the available reports on the course of these negotiations, we are not talking about a Palestinian state, but about “normalization” separately in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The military operation in the West Bank of the Jordan River is becoming no less serious and brutal than in Gaza. Let me remind you that over the years, the Russian side, as well as a number of our friends in the Arab world, such as Egypt, Algeria and other representatives of the region, have made attempts to provide all Palestinians with the opportunity to meet, eliminate any misunderstandings and restore unity. We consider this task important. We give you the opportunity, without limiting each other in time, to try to reach common solutions to restore unity on the PLO platform.

Palestinian President Abbas changed the government, dismissed the previous one, and began the process of selecting new technocrat ministers, as announced. I hope that such an approach, which testifies to the desire to bring a neutral “note” to the domestic political process, will contribute to the intensification of the inter-Palestinian dialogue, as well as the meetings that you will hold during your current visit to Moscow.

We wish the Palestinians and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas success in forming a new cabinet. We hope that it will reflect the tendency to overcome differences and consist of people representing the interests of the entire Palestinian people, all its constituent parts.

Our colleagues, whom you know very well, from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Foreign Ministry are at your service. If you talk responsibly in your circle in Palestinian, I think we could count on moving forward.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs M.L.Bogdanov and Professor V.V.Naumkin will continue their work and will be ready to provide you with advisory services. I hope that traditional Russian hospitality will contribute to your productive work.

source https://mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1935743/

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