April 01, 2011

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Israel holds secret talks with Russia in bid to thwart recognition of Palestinian state Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior adviser and top negotiator on the Palestinian channel, made a secret trip to Moscow on Wednesday and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The purpose of the visit was to dissuade Russia from supporting the European Union’s intention to present in two weeks’ time a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Molho was accompanied on the trip by the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor, Daniel Taub, and spent over an hour with Lavrov. Taub and Molho also met with the Russian envoy to the Middle East, Sergei Yakovlev, and other senior Russian officials. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Taub and Molho used the visit “to present new Israeli ideas for re-launching the peace process with the Palestinians.” The visit comes just two weeks before the foreign ministers of the Quartet − the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN − are to meet. France, Germany and the United Kingdom are pushing for announcing a new international peace initiative. The principles of the initiative known so far include setting up two states on the basis of the 1967 borders with territorial swaps; a fair, realistic and agreed-upon solution to the predicament of the Palestinian refugees; Jerusalem as a capital for both states and security arrangements that would protect Israel but not infringe on Palestinian sovereignty.

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