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Abbas Visits Putin for Jerusalem Talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting Vladimir Putin in Moscow today, in a bid to sideline the US from the Middle East peace process.

Putin and Abbas will discuss the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the prospect of finding a mechanism in which the United States would no longer serve as the primary mediator between the two sides. The meeting comes amid ongoing tensions between the Washington and the Palestinian Authority over Donald Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The PA has argued that the Trump administration was no longer qualified to play the role of honest broker in any peace process due to its "bias” in favor of Israel.

The Palestinians are also upset with Trump’s threats to cut funding to cut funding to the PA and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Russia is becoming a vital ally for the Palestinians, being one of the five permanent members on the United Nations Security Council. Russia recognizes Palestine as a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Russia is also a member of the Mideast Quartet for peace, established in Madrid in 2002 to promote peace in the Middle East and composed of Russia, the UN, EU and the US.

Israel and the United States have long opposed an international effort involving the United Nations in peace negotiations, expressing concerns it would be biased against Israel. They have insisted on direct talks between the parties.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN on February 8 suggested that China and Arab League could also be part of any future ‘peace processes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In late January, Abbas addressed an African Union meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, also calling on African states to join the multilateral mechanism to discuss the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Russia in 2016 offered to host one-on-one talks between Abbas and Netanyahu, but nothing came of the proposal.