Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 14

Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday reiterated its support for Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat and placed the blame on Israel for the current deadlock in the Middle East peace process. The ministry statement was released to the press following a meeting in Moscow between Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and a Palestinian delegation. Among other things, the statement offered backing for what it called Arafat’s efforts to continue a full-fledged dialogue with the Israeli government on the basis of previously agreed upon security and confidence building measures. The two sides were said also to have been critical of Israel’s unilateral efforts to expand Jewish settlement on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Not surprisingly, the two sides also underscored the importance both of Russian-Palestinian cooperation and of an influential role for Russia in the Middle East peace process. (Russian agencies, January 21)

Yesterday’s meeting in Moscow came the day after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival in Washington for talks with President Bill Clinton and other U.S. leaders. Clinton is scheduled to meet today with Arafat.

Moscow is seeking to regain at least some of the influence in the Middle East that it enjoyed prior to the Soviet Union’s dissolution. As a cosponsor, along with the U.S., of the peace process begun at the 1991 Madrid peace conference, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has used renewed tensions in the region to call for a broader internationalization of the U.S.-dominated peace negotiations. Moscow’s efforts have been abetted by dissatisfaction throughout the Arab world over the Netanyahu government’s repudiation of the 1993 Oslo peace accords and over perceptions that the U.S. has nevertheless continued to favor Israel. Moscow’s actions in this area parallel its strategy with regard to the crisis in Iraq. There, it is also attempting to capitalize on a diplomatic stalemate — and to increase its own influence — by calling for greater internationalization of the conflict resolution effort.

Polish Court Refuses to Extradite Stankevich.