Last updated: 6 November, 2012

Russia’s Lavrov discusses UN bid with Abbas

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks in Amman with Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday about the Palestinian president’s plans to seek upgraded status at the United Nations later this month.

The two also discussed the peace process, with Lavrov hailing the Palestinian leader’s commitment to return to direct negotiations with Israel, which have been on hold for more than two years.

“I found it very important that president Abbas firmly reiterated that he is in favour of resuming direct negotiations with Israel to discuss all final status issues,” Lavrov told reporters after talks in the Jordanian capital.

“We fully support such approach; we fully support the resumption of direct negotiations,” he said, speaking in English.

Last month, Abbas told EU diplomats he would be willing to return to long-stalled peace talks after the Palestinians secured upgraded membership at the United Nations in a move expected to take place later this month.

“When we have obtained the status of non-member state at the General Assembly, we will be ready to return to the negotiating table with the Israeli side to discuss all final status issues outstanding,” Abbas said, according to the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA.

Until now, Abbas has said he will not sit down to negotiate unless Israel halts settlement building and commits to the frontiers which existed before the 1967 Six Day War as the basis for peace talks.

Israel has repeatedly called for talks without such preconditions.

With direct peace talks on hold for more than two years, the Palestinians have sought to push for their long-promised state in other ways, seeking to upgrade their status from an observer entity to that of a non-member state.

Abbas has said he will table the resolution later this month, on either November 15 or 29, officials say. It is expected to easily pass, requiring only a simple majority in the 193-member General Assembly.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, who also attended the meeting, welcomed Moscow’s support for the upcoming UN bid, which is strongly opposed by Israel and Washington.

“President Abbas discussed with Mr Lavrov our endeavour to seek the upgrading of Palestine’s status at the UN… to (that of) a non-member state,” he told reporters, saying Russia’s top diplomat had expressed backing for the move.

“We appreciate very much the Russian position in fully supporting the Palestinians in our endeavour at the UN,” Erakat said, also speaking in English.

“Russia has always stood behind Palestine’s statehood and they will vote for the resolution,” he said, standing next to Lavrov.

Although Lavrov did not directly refer to the latest Palestinian bid, he said Moscow fully backed the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“For us the statehood of Palestine is not questionable; we recognised the State of Palestine when it was pronounced in 1988,” he said, referring to the declaration of independence issued by veteran leader Yasser Arafat on November 15, 1988.

“We have a full embassy of Palestine in Moscow and this is our policy,” he said.