Putin: Russia already recognizes 'Palestine'
IsraelToday: Russia reinserted itself into the Israeli-Palestinian "peace" process in a major way this week with a highly publicized visit by President Vladimir Putin.
While meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, Putin said that Russia had no problem recognizing an independnet Palestinian state, noting that Moscow had already done so during the days of the Soviet Union.
"We [recognized Palestine] 25 years ago, and our position has not changed," said Putin.
Putin thanked Abbas for his "responsible" leadership, either ignoring or rejecting the fact that even the Obama Administration now views Abbas' intansigence and insistence on pre-conditions as the main obstacle to restarting peace talks.
"Palestinian leadership, and the president personally, have been behaving responsibly to achieve peace based on the two-state solution," said Putin.
Putin also threw his weight behind Abbas' efforts to reconcile with Hamas and forge a national unity government with the terror groups, despite the fact that Hamas remains openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinians hailed Putin's visit as "historic" and named a street in Bethlehem after the Russian leader, which was something of a faux pas considering Europeans typically only name streets after deceased persons.
Abbas' office said he is keen to hold the next Middle East peace summit in Moscow, where the Palestinians feel thier position will be more favored than in Washington or other Western capitals.
Putin met earlier in the week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, but those talks were reportedly focused far more on Iran and Syria, rather than on the conflict with the Palestinians.
Putin warned Israel against a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, insisting that such an endeavor would "backfire." He also urged the West, presumably including Israel, to keep its nose out of Syria's affairs. Russia is cautiously backing the regime of Bashar Assad againster a Western-supported insurgency.