President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
Let me cordially welcome you to Moscow. There is no need to describe the depth and quality of our relations. During our meeting today we will discuss the situation in the region and our bilateral relations.
I know that now the situation is far from what we would like to see. Still, everyone knows in detail everything taking place on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement track.
You know that we have always supported the Palestinian people. The Prime Minister of Israel, Mr Netanyahu, was recently on a visit in Russia. We certainly discussed this issue as well. Just now I had a telephone conversation with the President of the United States, Mr Trump. Naturally, we talked about the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process. I would like to convey his best wishes. As for the contents of our conversation, we will discuss this right now.
Certainly, your personal view of what is going on is very important to us, so that we can compare notes and work out a common approach to resolving this complicated problem.
President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas (retranslated): Mr President, thank you very much for receiving us today.
We are always glad to see you and exchange views. First of all, let me express my deep condolences to you and all the Russian people over the plane crash that killed 71 Russian citizens.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Mahmoud Abbas: These condolences are from me personally and from all the Palestinian people. We sincerely hope that such disasters never befall the friendly Russian people again.
Naturally, we are very interested in discussing all these issues with you. First of all, our bilateral agenda and also the regional situation, with an emphasis on Palestinian developments, taking into consideration the events that took place 2–3 months ago, I mean in our relations with the US.
From the time Donald Trump was elected US President until September last year, I met with him four times. He kept telling me about a deal that he could make that would put an end to the Arab-Israeli confrontation.
We waited all this time to see this solution, to learn how it will be accomplished. However, instead we were distressed when the US government decided to close the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s mission in Washington a few months ago.
There were reasons for that, which we consider strange, I will speak about them, I mean the reasons for Congress to support this step. The reason is that the US Congress has considered us, the Palestinian National Authority and the PLO, terrorist organisations since 1987. And this decision affects our relations with the US government. However, the US government gave us a waiver every six months.
This is why I was very surprised to hear that the US Congress can take this view, considering the fact that we have long-standing relations with the US, we exchange visits, they provide us with assistance, we maintain regular contacts, and now they suddenly call us terrorists.
I would also add that we are connected with the United States – like with many other countries – by cooperation protocols on fighting terrorism at the local, regional and international levels. And when they made a decision to close down the PLO mission, we said, All right, then we will close the American consulate in Jerusalem. Therefore, all our contacts with the US Embassy are now severed.
With regard to our representation office in Washington, it is also officially closed. However, our representative still performs his duties there albeit without any official status.
A short time after that, US President Donald Trump surprised us again. It was a slap in the face for us. I mean his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and, therefore, to recognise the united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There was another decision following that, which was Trump’s decision to cut support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Then previously unseen events began to happen. He began to declare: We shall cut off assistance to you as you are against the negotiating process. I was also very surprise since throughout the history of our relations, since 1988 until present, we have never turned away from negotiating processes.
It was also said as a justification that we used to say “no” to all meetings with Israeli officials. Evidence to the contrary is my consent to your proposal that you made at one time to arrange a direct meeting between myself and Mr Netanyahu. I agreed, I was on the way to you when I was informed that Mr Netanyahu cancelled that meeting.
In such an atmosphere, which was created by the US actions, we declare that starting with the present moment we refuse to cooperate with the Americans in their status of mediators as we are against their actions. And if any international conference or international event are held, we ask for establishing a mechanism whereby the United States is not the only mediator but rather a part of a group of mediators.