Russia wants meeting to renew ties between US, Palestinians

Russia has offered to facilitate a meeting between the US and Palestinian leaders to help renew ties that have frayed between the two sides during the Trump administration, according to reports.

A planned meeting in Geneva in the coming weeks also is aimed at preventing an escalation of violence in the West Bank and allowing the Palestinian Authority to propose changes to President Trump’s peace plan, according to the Times of Israel, which cited Channel 13.

The European Union and United Nations also are part of the Russian initiative, regarding it as a chance to jump-start the peace talks and halt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, the report said.

“The only way to stop annexation is to renew contact between the Palestinians and the US government,” an unnamed Western diplomat was quoted saying in the Channel 13 report.

It was unclear if Israel would be invited to the summit, or how it would be held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the White House since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and transferred the US Embassy to the city, the eastern part of which Palestinians claim for a future state.

The Trump administration also has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, and closed the PLO representative office in Washington.

According to the report, the “mini-summit” in Geneva also would include representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The proposed meeting was discussed in phone call earlier this week between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US peace envoy Avi Berkowitz, according to the report.

Bogdanov also reportedly called PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat to discuss the sitdown. The senior Palestinian official did not reject it but also did not provide a definitive answer on whether the PA would attend.

News about the proposed meeting comes after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to all peace agreements and understandings with Israel and the US because of the Jewish state’s plans to annex settlements in the West Bank.

On Monday, the European Union’s top diplomat warned Jerusalem against annexation, saying the bloc would not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines not agreed upon in a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

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