News Analysis: Putin, Macron's visits to West Bank strengthen int'l role in supporting Palestinian cause: analysts

Saturday, 2020-01-25 15:19:08
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A file photo shows the Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov (foreground) in the northern area of east Jerusalem and the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Ram (background) in the West Bank. (Source: AFP/Getty Images)
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The recent visits of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to Jerusalem and the West Bank have strengthened the role of the international community in supporting the Palestinian cause, local analysts said.

The visits of Putin and Macron come at a crucial moment when Israeli leaders are planning to annex large parts of the West Bank, a move the Palestinians consider devastating to the two-state solution.

Meanwhile, the US government has announced its intention to soon disclose the full details of its peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, better known as the Deal of the Century, despite the categorical rejection from the Palestinian Authority.

The visits of Putin and Macron to Israel and the West Bank in the past two days "have boosted the role of Moscow and Paris in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and this role can be an alternative to the US role," said Ahmad Rafiq Awwad, a Ramallah-based political analyst.

"Both Russia and France have big influence on international issues as both are permanent members in the UN Security Council," Awwad noted.

"The two countries are both backers of the principle of the two-state solution," he said.

Putin and Macron arrived in Jerusalem this week to participate in the World Holocaust Forum held in the city, during which they also visited the West Bank and held separate talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the future of the Middle East peace process.

"Both Putin and Macron addressed a message of a real political support to the Palestinians. Their visits activated the international role in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians," said Nabil Amro, a former Palestinian diplomat.

Political ties between Palestine and the United States were severed after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017, as the Palestinians aspire to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Since Trump's recognition, the Palestinians have been demanding an international mechanism to sponsor their peace negotiations with Israelis, as the last round of US-sponsored peace talks broke down in 2014 after nine months without any tangible progress.

George Jaqman, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian think-tank Institute for Democratic Studies, said both Putin and Macron have been trying to stand against the growing Israeli threats of annexing the West Bank territories.