(February 12, 2018 / JNS) Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas traveled Russia on Monday, in an attempt to boost the standing of the Palestinian Authority and gain backing for a Palestinian state from Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the wake of deteriorating relations between Palestinians and the current U.S. administration.
Abbas has refused to have any contact with US President Donald Trump’s administration since the American president officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority boycotted a visit by US Vice President Mike Pence in January.
Abbas seeks now to circumvent the United States and achieve recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations. Abbas sees Russia as an emerging power in the Middle East, and hopes that Russia together with other international powers can serve as brokers of an arrangement that will deliver a Palestinian state.
Abbas’ visit comes just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Abbas in Ramallah, as part of the diplomatic campaign to find multinational backers for a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Modi in India last month amidst growing Israel-India relations.
Netanyahu also traveled to Moscow earlier this month, where he and Putin discussed the Iranian threat to Israel, and the spillover of that threat into Syria, where Russia has a strong military presence and has provided Syrian forces with air defense technology–including the missiles used to down an Israel F16 on Saturday.