Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently returned from a trip to Moscow where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, Abbas reiterated Palestine’s position that the US will no longer be able to play a role as a mediator in the long stalled peace process.
Palestine’s Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki has elaborated on Abbas’s statement, indicating that a Palestinian-“Israeli” peace process could work in a manner similar to the Astana format which has seen multiple parties to the Syria conflict coming to Sochi to engage in a Russian organised, Dialogue Congress.
According to Maliki,
“We are asking an advice of many internationally recognized legal experts to help us also to focus on different specific legal tracks and to see what could we do in the near future when it comes to this, you know, if the negotiations track is closed by the rejection of Israel and the United States, that means that they are not leaving us with many options but to focus on the legal one.
…we are ready for direct talks through a third party, of course… We do not think that taking Israel for 15 minutes reunion in Jerusalem will do that. We think that this will be a disaster. We think, you know, probably, coming to Sochi or maybe to Moscow could be the right one, if Netanyahu is willing to do so, you know, it’s only a flight of three hours, and he will enjoy, of course, the hospitality of president Putin and the Russian people. So, I advise the Israeli ambassador to look into it and to show the positive attitude”
The Palestinian Foreign Minister’s statements indicate that the model for conflict resolution that Russia has pioneered in Astana along with Iran and Turkey, has proved to be an attractive one for Palestine, which has wholeheartedly given up on the perennially failed model of the US mediating in talks between “Israeli” and Palestinian officials. While Tel Aviv officials have thus far rejected an abandonment of the long dead US format for mediating direct talks, recent remarks from Donald Trump which have expressed scepticism with both “Israel” and Palestine’s ability to reach an understanding through existing channels, may force Tel Aviv to test a Russian lead peace process, not least because Russia is one of the few major powers with healthy relations with both sides.
With Palestine rejecting any continued American mediator role and Donald Trump seemingly giving up on trying to have one, states and international bodies which have thus far not actively participated in the peace process, could be well on their way to fomenting a multilateral dialogue in a format resembling the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.
In this sense it is possible that a peace conference including multi-Palestinian and “Israeli” factions could meet in Sochi with states and bodies as diverse as Russia, China, the Arab League, European Union, African Union and even the US acting as guarantors of a final agreement.