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April 18, 2022 11:54 am
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PA President Abbas Expresses Support for Putin Over Ukraine Invasion as Russia Slams Israeli ‘Illegal Occupation’

avatar by Ben Cohen

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Sochi, Russia November 23, 2021. Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared his support for Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s stance on Ukraine during a phone call between the two men on Monday.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its eighth week, Abbas told Putin that the PA backed the Russian leader’s “position on pursuing efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the Ukrainian crisis,” according to a summary of the meeting published by the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

For his part, Putin pledged that Russia would “provide the Palestinian and other importers in the Middle East with all their needs of Russian wheat, materials and crops.” International sanctions against Russia, which provides 17 percent of the global wheat supply, have not been applied to its agriculture sector directly, with significant exports of grain reported in March.

Putin also declared that Russian support for the Palestinians at the UN and other international forums would continue. Addressing last week’s clashes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters, Putin “stressed his rejection of the Israeli practices that prevent worshippers from freely accessing the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the need to respect the existing historical status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem,” Wafa said.

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Abbas has a close personal relationship with Russia that mirrors the historically warm ties between Moscow and the PLO. In the early 1980s, Abbas studied in the Soviet Union, where he was awarded a doctorate for a dissertation falsely alleging that the Zionist movement was just as culpable as the Nazi regime for the Holocaust during World War II.

In 2016, Israeli researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered a Soviet-era document that listed Abbas as an agent for the KGB spy agency — an allegation the Palestinian leader dismissed as an Israeli fabrication.

The document, confirmed as authentic by the Churchill Archives Centre at the University of Cambridge in the UK, identified Abbas as “Krotov” — the Russian word for “mole.” The entry for Abbas described him as “born 1935, origin Palestine, member of the executive committee of Fatah, PLO, Damascus, agent of the KGB.”

In a separate development on Sunday, Israel’s envoy in Moscow was summoned for a dressing-down at the Russian foreign ministry. Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi was told that Russia was angry with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s repeated condemnations of Russian actions in Ukraine.

An accompanying statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry accused Israel of “a thinly veiled attempt to take advantage of the situation around Ukraine in order to divert the attention of the international community from one of the oldest unresolved conflicts — the Palestinian-Israeli one.”

In the same statement, the Russians slammed Israel’s “illegal occupation and creeping annexation of Palestinian territories,” adding the comment that “Israel’s course of maintaining the longest occupation in post-war world history is carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States.”

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