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The Russian Role Has Arrived - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A political effort is needed to restore Palestinian international status to the way it was prior to the elections and to include Hamas – the government in the official Palestinian project, which has reached an important stage with Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and plans to partially withdraw from the West Bank. This is where the Russian role comes in. Moscow did not fulfill its role in the way it should have since it was preoccupied with its internal issues that are no less complicated than our own. Its contributions were limited in spite of the fact that the Madrid Conference gave it the right and status, and Moscow was chosen for some regional negotiating activities.

Hence, it is not true to say that the Russian role was as fabricated and unjustified as Israeli and US commentaries have said. In fact there should be a role for a third country other than the United States and Israel in order to facilitate the shift in the Palestinian negotiating position. Furthermore, all statements issued by Hamas officials were balanced and moderate. They did not seek to escalate matters or foil what has been agreed upon in the negotiations that were conducted by the previous

Palestinian government. So long as Hamas is the Palestinian majority choice, then there is no option but to accept it, deal with it, and grant it the chance it deserves to organize its state of affairs and enter negotiations if it wished to bring them back to life.

From here stems the role of the Russians, who have always avoided taking a clear stance against any side in the Arab-Israeli issue apart from issuing therapeutic statements that aim to bring the points of view closer without having to be involved in one-sided positions. The Russian Government can also operate as a mediator between the three sides; namely, Israel, the United States, and the new Palestinian government after it is formed. It would be difficult for the three to meet without a third acceptable

mediator, especially since the United States has put itself in a difficult situation when the Congress, which normally supports Israel, preempted the results of the Palestinian elections, considered Hamas a terrorist organization, and prohibited the US Government from negotiating with it. Weeks later, Hamas won and imposed a reality that should be dealt with.

Hence, the situation became complicated from a legal aspect, and for that reason time will be wasted trying to unravel the problem particularly since it will take a long time in order to find a suitable formula for the demands that Hamas has to fulfill. Thus, asking Hamas to modify its positions, withdraw its statements, change its constitution, and prohibit dealings with some of its members will practically mean wasting a long

time in useless political talk.

No one asked the extreme right-wing Likud party to dismiss any of its members or change its proclaimed and written positions. Instead, it was accepted in spite of its prior outspoken rejection of the withdrawal and the creation of a Palestinian state. Therefore, this opportunity should be granted to Hamas since it has become the official Palestinian public choice. This is where the Russian role can restore the relationship with the Palestinian side and help the sides proceed with trust instead of

trying to push Hamas to a corner and isolate it. Prior to that, one should try to fix what has been spoiled by the Congress when it interfered in the affairs of one of the sides of the struggle.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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