Palestinians: Why Can’t Russia Lead Peace Negotiations?

Ramallah. (Flash90)

Instead of American leadership on the peace process – which they now reject – the Palestinians would rather see an international coalition of nations lead negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, two Israeli Knesset members said after meeting with PA officials in Ramallah earlier this week. The meeting was sponsored by the far-left Geneva Initiative, which seeks establishment of a Palestinian state in all areas of Yehudah and Shomron and Yerushalayim liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.

The Palestinian leaders were in a “combative” mood, the MKs told Ma’ariv, especially when it came to their opinion of U.S. President Donald Trump. After the Trump administration announced last year that the U.S. would recognize Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, the PA announced that it would no longer follow America’s lead on negotiations. “Based on the information we have received, it is clear that the peace process he is developing will not be for our benefit. Under these conditions we cannot have negotiations. When the president acts illogically, you have to change the system. The era of the U.S. as the mediator between us is over.”

Instead, Ramallah sees the Iran nuclear negotiations as a model. In order to achieve the deal on nuclear development with Iran in 2015, Tehran negotiated with the U.S., Russia, China and several European countries. “There is no reason that the international community should not be involved in our negotiations,” the report quoted the PA officials as telling the MKs. Russia, especially, would be a good candidate to lead negotiations. “Your relationship with the Russians is at an-all time high,” the officials told the MKs. “The Russians are involved in this region even more than the Americans. The U.S. has been weakened and there is no reason it should be the sole patron of the Israel-Palestinian negotiation process. The Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans all should be involved.”

The officials said they had gotten information from the Egyptians and the Saudis on the American peace plan, and they didn’t like it. “It will not provide for an independent Palestinian state, it is not based on the 1967 armistice lines, and there is not even a word about the return of refugees. We can’t work with it,” they told the MKs. That information, actually, is why the Palestinians took such great offense at the Trump declaration on Yerushalayim. “We don’t place much value in the declaration itself, but we used it to disrupt the negotiations before the Americans complete their plans. This way we will not have to reject it publicly when it is introduced.”