'Unite to not lose', Russia's Lavrov calls on Hamas and Fatah

  • 13 Feb 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Palestinian parties, including Hamas and Fatah factions, amid a three-day intra-Palestinian meeting which began in Moscow aimed at unifying 12 different Palestinian movements and organisations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks during a meeting with representatives of Palestinian groups and movements as a part of an intra-Palestinian talks in Moscow, Russia February 12, 2019. ( Reuters )

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday met with Palestinian representatives from both Hamas and Fatah in Moscow where he advised the two group to unite. 

Their meeting comes in a time the US President Donal Trump is planning to launch a peace plane he branded as “deal of the century” which might disappoint the Palestinian side as details of the possible plan started to leak. 

Lavrov, who is skeptical about the plan, said it doesn’t include the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, adding it would destroy everything.

The terms of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” remain vague, but, according to recent speculations, Palestinian refugees will be asked to concede their right to return to historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

‘Unite to not lose’

“We hope all Palestinian movements would put aside their political interests,” said Lavrov, urging the Palestinians to unite. 

“We cannot impose you anything, but we, as your friend, suggest you act as one in the future negotiations with Israel,” he said, affirming the Russian support for any deal the Palestinian parties to reach to reconcile. 

The West Bank-based Fatah and Hamas which governs Gaza have been rivals since Hamas won 2006 general elections in Palestine, a result Fatah didn’t accept. 

Hamas has the full control of Gaza since they pushed out Fatah forces out in 2007. 

Since then, several efforts to reconcile the two groups have failed with two agreement reached, but the sides withdrew from the deals due to disagreements. 

In 2014, Hamas, with efforts by Egypt, agreed to a national unity government that was formed under President Mahmoud Abbas, letting Fatah oversee all Palestine territories, including Gaza. 

The deal didn’t last long as Hamas said most of the members of this national unity government were Fatah supporters and withdrew. 

Another turning point, again with Egyptian support, came in 2017 after the two groups signed a reconciliation deal, setting in motion a plan for Abbas's Palestinian Authority to resume governing in Gaza and take up control of the coastal enclave's crossing points into Egypt and Israel.

But disputes over power-sharing and disagreements over policy towards Israel have hampered the deal's implementation. 

As a result, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al Hamdallah has tendered his resignation and that of his unity government to Mahmoud Abbas, another blow to faltering reconciliation efforts with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

American approach 

The United States has been the biggest supporter of Israel, which reached its peak after Donal Trump moved embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declared the city of Israel’s capital. 

And Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Israel consider the entire city as its capital while Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. 

Trump's recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December outraged Palestinians, who said the United States could no longer serve as an honest broker in any peace process with Israel.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem - a sacred city to Muslims, Jews, and Christians - should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.