PLO calls for Abbas-Netanyahu meeting in Russia

Russia reportedly offers to host tripartite meeting in Moscow; Reports come ahead of Russia Fatah-Hamas reconciliation meeting and Paris Middle East peace conference next Sunday

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The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) reported that President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu following an initiation by Russian President Vladimir Putin to host a meeting in Moscow.

According to PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, Putin offered to coordinate and host a tripartite meeting to resume peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Erekat calling for a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu on Saturday, just one week ahead of the Paris Middle East Peace Conference.

Erekat stated on Saturday that “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to hold a tripartite meeting in Russia affirms that Moscow realizes the importance of resuming the peace process and negotiations and President Abbas accepted the invitation, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused it. We as Palestinians deeply value all of Russia’s positions on this issue… Russia affirmed that it was ready to hold a new meeting and we informed our Russian friends that the Palestinian side is ready to accept the invitation.’

The move comes ahead of the Paris Middle East Peace Conference scheduled for January 15th. Over 70 nations are expected to attend the conference organized by French President Fracois Hollande, the conference to center on the peace process and two-state solution, regardless of Israel’s refusal to participate. Israel has continuously rejected invitations to the conference, as Israel will only agree to the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians if they are held directly and without preconditions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned that the conference could be an opportunity for increased measures by the international community against the State of Israel, particularly following the United Nations Security Council resolution. He stated that “we are engaged in… is to prevent another UN resolution, and also to prevent a Quartet decision. We are investing a great deal of diplomatic efforts in this, and this also has to be your main efforts in the coming days.”

The call for meeting comes just a few days following the PLO announcing that Russia offered to host a reconciliation meeting between Fatah and Hamas. A member of PLO Executive Committee confirmed the invitation from Russia, stating at the time “The Russians will host a meeting of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian officials in Moscow in the middle of January to discuss reconciliation… The Palestinian leadership wants to demonstrate that it is working on both the peace process through the Paris conference and reconciliation by way of the Moscow meeting.”