Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan on Thursday, where he expressed dismay at the notion that the United States can serve as an impartial mediator between Palestinians and Israel.
The meeting took place as part of the CICA conference of Asian countries, with Abbas stating that the Palestinians "have no trust in the U.S." and that they do not want the U.S. alone to assist in efforts to resolve the conflict with Israel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are also participating in the conference held in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Abbas's office reported that the Palestinian Authority chairman informed Putin of the recent escalation in the West Bank and of last night's clashes in East Jerusalem.
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A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the PA knows a meeting with Putin at the current time may be considered problematic in the eyes of Western countries and especially Washington.
However, according to him, the Palestinians do not have many options left and are therefore turning to any country that can help them in their struggle. "Abbas cannot refuse such an invitation to meet with Putin," said the official. He emphasized that Russia been a supporter of the Palestinian cause for years and maintains cooperation with the authority in many areas.
Abbas' remarks reflected his frustration with the U.S., which has stepped back from its once-intense mediation between Israelis and Palestinians.
The comments also follow a crisis of confidence between the Palestinians and the U.S. after the Trump administration cut funding to the Palestinians and pursued policies that were favorable toward Israel. That included moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the contested city of Jerusalem.
President Joe Biden has restored the funding, but kept the embassy in Jerusalem. He also has not attempted to restart peace talks, focusing instead on more modest goals such as boosting the Palestinian economy.
The 87-year-old heads a weak Palestinian leadership with no real succession plans for the day the long-serving leader is gone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report