The normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states shouldn't be used for prolonging the Palestinian problem settlement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, speaking at a UN Security Council open debate on the Middle East settlement via videoconference.
"It is important that the process of normalizing Israel's relations with the Arab states, which we generally welcome, launched last year, be aimed at solving the problems of stabilizing the entire Middle East region and not be used to put aside the Palestinian issue, as they say, until better times," he said.
Lavrov said steps aimed at dismantling the international legal framework for the Middle East settlement, approved by the UN Security Council, and replacing collective diplomatic efforts with "deal diplomacy," only delay prospects for a just settlement.
As the Minister pointed out, the first step toward resuming the peace process should be the confirmation of UNSC decisions and other fundamental documents, including the Madrid principles. "This applies both to illegal Israeli settlement activity and plans for the annexation of occupied territories, the status of Jerusalem, the problem of refugees, borders - all this must be determined through direct, political dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis," he said, adding that Israel's legitimate security concerns must also be addressed. According to Lavrov, the two-state formula remains the basis of a sustainable settlement.
Meeting on Middle East settlement
Lavrov added that Moscow proposes holding a ministerial meeting on the Middle East settlement with a broad range of participants in the spring or summer.
He noted that Russia supports the initiative of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to convene an international conference on a Middle East settlement. "In support of this initiative, we suggest thinking about holding a ministerial meeting in the spring or summer of 2021 with Russia, the United States, the UN and the European Union as members of the Quartet [international mediators on the Middle East], four Arab countries - Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - and, of course, with the participation of Israel and Palestine. It would also be important to invite Saudi Arabia as the author of the Arab peace initiative," the Russian Foreign Minister said.
According to him, such a meeting could become a platform for comprehensive analysis of the situation and help the sides to start a dialogue. He also recalled Russia's readiness to organize a Palestinian-Israeli summit in Moscow "in response to the wishes and requests of the parties expressed earlier". "We are open to discussing these and any other proposals and would be grateful for possible comments. We call on regional and international partners to respond to the invitation to dialogue in order to find ways of collective action to establish peace and stability throughout the Middle East," Lavrov concluded.
The Russian Foreign Minister also said that achieving a comprehensive Middle East settlement should be the focus of the world community's attention.
"The task of achieving a sustainable and comprehensive Middle East settlement should remain the focus of attention of the international community," Lavrov said.
The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that a frank exchange of views in the Security Council on the problems of the Middle East settlement is long overdue. "It is necessary to review the previous stage, to establish the reasons for the continuing deadlock in the sphere of Middle East settlement, and to outline key areas of joint work for the future," Lavrov stressed.
Lavrov also said that Russia stands for the soonest activation of international mediators' efforts to restart direct Palestinian-Israeli dialogue.
"We consider it urgent to intensify international efforts as soon as possible in support of restarting direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in order to resolve a set of fundamental final status issues," Lavrov said.
"We are convinced that to ensure progress on this path it is necessary to involve the mediation functions of the "quartet" of international mediators (Russia, US, EU, UN - TASS note) - the only legitimate mechanism approved by UN Security Council resolutions. We are sure that the quartet in close cooperation with the parties to the conflict and the key Arab countries is able to play a very effective role", the Russian Foreign Minister added.
n mid-September 2020, Israel signed documents in Washington to normalize relations with the UAE and Bahrain. Palestine strongly opposed these treaties and recalled its ambassadors from Abu Dhabi and Manama. The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, on which Palestine relies, allows for peace agreements and good-neighborly relations between Arabs and Israel, but only if the Jewish state withdraws from the territories it occupied in 1967, including the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms, and recognizes the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with its capital in East Jerusalem.
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Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry
Based on materials from TASS