Russian president Vladmir Putin is asserting himself as the next broker for Middle East peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a sign of his continued ambition to supplant the U.S. – and Obama – as the major power broker in the region.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Putin would be willing to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks at the Kremlin, reported Egyptian media.
“The Russian president has informed me that he has invited Palestinian President [Abbas] and Prime Minister Netanyahu for a meeting in Moscow,” al-Sisi said. “Egypt supports these efforts and both sides are urged to participate and respond positively to the initiative for the sake of finding light at the end of the tunnel for Palestinians and establishing their state alongside Israel.”
Egypt’s role in the process would be “that which convinces the sides that if peace will be attained light will shine on the entire region,” according to al-Sisi.
He added that Fatah and Hamas, the opposing Palestinian political parties, needed to make amends and end their civil war in order for the peace talks to be successful.
In July, Palestinian leaders presented several preconditions for participating in a trilateral Israeli-Egyptian-Palestinian peace summit in Cairo, including a freeze on Israeli settlement construction.
Abbas also demanded that Israel accept negotiations based on the pre-1967 boundary lines and pledge ahead of time to implement any agreements reached in the talks.
Putin originally suggested a Moscow peace conference in 2005, but the U.S., in hopes to contain Russia’s diplomatic influence, opposed it.
But after a decade under Obama’s tired lead-from-behind strategy coupled with ISIS’s regional destabilization, conditions in the Middle East have continued to give Putin the leverage he needs step in and show Russia’s influence as a regional power player.