Abbas calls for new mediation mechanism

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday and called for a new mediation mechanism to replace the Middle East quartet.

Abbas said the Palestinians could no longer accept the role of the United States as a mediator in talks with Israel stating that “…from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the US in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions”.

Abbas was quoted as said he wanted an expanded new mediation mechanism,  a “‘quartet’ plus some other countries like the model used to achieve the deal on Iran,” referring to the five permanent members of the security council plus Germany which negotiated the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Before his visit, Abbas said he hoped Russia could assume a greater role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, saying the United States “can no longer play a leading role”.  During the meeting, Putin reportedly told Abbas: “It is very important for us to know your personal opinion in order to set the record straight and put in place a common approach to solve this problem.”

Ever since US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement in December, the PA has rejected the US as a sole mediator for the political process and is looking to expand the number of countries involved in peace negotiations. Over the weekend, during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the West Bank, Abbas also tried to recruit him to support a more internationalised mediation mechanism, saying the Palestinians “are relying on India… to contribute to achieving a just peace in our region”.

President Trump spoke to Putin before Abbas arrived in Moscow. President Trump told Putin that ‘now is the time to work toward an enduring [Middle East] peace agreement.’