position on a Palestinian state was unchanged from the 1980s, when
it recognized a Palestinian declaration of statehood, visiting
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.
Moscow was one of the first to recognize a November 1988
declaration of Palestinian independence. There were fears in
Israel that during his high-profile visit to the Palestinian
territories Medvedev would follow the lead of several South
American countries and explicitly recognize a Palestinian state in
the West Bank borders, which existed prior to the 1967 Middle East
Addressing a joint news conference with Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas in the historic city of Jericho, Medvedev said
Moscow wanted to see a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as
He said Russia was not happy with the current condition of the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and called on the parties to
show self-restraint and to avoid any unilateral actions.
He also backed a Palestinian demand that Israel totally freeze
construction in its West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem,
and said the efforts of the international community needed to be
exploited to help take the peace process to a new level.
Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, relaunched last September
after an hiatus of nearly two years, are currently in limbo after
Israel did not renew a partial, limited 10-month freeze on
construction at its West Bank settlements and Palestinians pulled
out of the negotiations.
The Palestinians have insisted that the talks will not be renewed
until Israel renews the freeze and halts construction in occupied
East Jerusalem - a demand the Israeli government has so far
Medvedev, making what Palestinians described as a "historic" visit
to the Palestinian territories, arrived in Jericho in the early
afternoon from Jordan.
On his first official visit to the area, he had been slated to
arrive in Israel first, but that was cancelled following a strike
by Israeli foreign ministry employees.
Prior to his meeting and news conference with Abbas, Medvedev
signed three cooperation agreements on agriculture, information
and sports with his hosts.
After the news conference, he and Abbas left to inaugurate a
Russian Museum, recently built in Jericho on land owned by the
Russian Orthodox Church, as part of the city's 10,000-years
Medvedev was slated to return to Jordan in the evening.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat described Medvedev's
visit as "historic and very important".
He told the official Voice of Palestine radio that the visit has
"a message of support for the wise policies of President Mahmoud
Abbas regarding the peace process and the building of state
Russia, he said, has supported efforts to build state
institutions, particularly its role in training security forces.
Erekat also said Russia supported Palestinian efforts for a UN
Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement policy
in the West Bank.
The resolution is expected to be submitted to the Security Council
Wednesday for discussion, but voting is not expected to take place
for a few more days.
Erekat said the US has informed the Palestinians that it was
opposed to this resolution, but he expressed hope that Washington
will not veto it when it comes up for voting.