Russia attempts to bridge Israel-Palestine gap

15:07, March 25, 2011      

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by Igor Serebryany, Zhang Dailei

Russia made an attempt to narrow the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians by successively inviting their leaders to Moscow this week.

Though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have not met face to face here, the fact that both leaders were invited almost at the same time raised hopes that they may bury the hatchet, political experts said.

"TWIN VISITS:" NO COINCIDENCE

Russia invited the two leaders amid the worsening situation in the Middle East and North Africa, which, as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Abbas, might affect the Mideast peace process as a whole.

Moscow is willing to facilitate the peace process as a mediator between both sides by wielding its clout.

Russia currently has at least two advantages: Neither side of the peace process refuses such a mediation, and the United States is overwhelmed by its operation in Libya.

The timing of Abbas' and Netanyahu's visits wasn't a coincidence, Maytham Al Janabi, professor at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, told Xinhua.

"In certain situations both Israelis and Palestinians trust Russia more than they trust the Americans," the expert said. He noted that current relations between the U.S. administration and Israel have been cool, and that Palestinians valued Russia's well-balanced position on Libya and moves in other Arab countries.

Therefore, the expert believed Moscow is exerting efforts to re-activate and enhance its role under these new circumstances in the region, where profound changes have been occurring.

"Traditionally, since the Soviet times, Arab leaders used to consider Moscow as their ally. Now Russia wants to play an impartial mediator and tries not to create an impression it is holding talks behind one's back," Al Janabi said.

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