Arab diplomats in Russia called Israel’s 60th birthday celebrations an affront to Arabs.
“What took place 60 years ago was an act of genocide,” said Faed Mustafa, the charge d’affaires for the Palestinian mission in Moscow. “A whole people was ejected from its own territory for the purpose of that territory being occupied by another people.”
Mustafa and four other diplomats spoke May 16 at a roundtable called “60 Years of Unceasing Conflict: The Tragedy of the Palestinian People.”
Izzat Saad, Egypt’s ambassador to Russia, said the current American administration was holding back any hope of progress on peace talks in the Middle East.
Oleg Ozerov, the deputy director of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Department dealing with the Middle East, said a representative from the Jewish side would have differed in his version of history from the Arab diplomats.
“Every people has their own tragedy, including the Israelis,” Ozerov said at the roundtable. He added that for the Russians, who are trying to play a role in the peace process, “the most important thing is justice.”
Ozerov articulated Russia’s position that Israel must scale back its settlements in the West Bank and work toward the establishment of a viable, democratic Palestinian state.
In addition to the discussion, the leaders of the Arab community in Russia also planned an exhibition of photographs and films at Moscow’s Central Artists’ House highlighting what they see as the Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” of 1948.