JERUSALEM (JTA) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated Russia’s recognition more than two decades ago of an independent Palestinian state.
"We made a decision then and we will not change it today," Medvedev said following a meeting Tuesday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho.
The Russian president was referring to Russia’s recognition in 1988 of an independent Palestinian state following a declaration of independence made by then-Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
"We supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in east Jerusalem," Medvedev reportedly said.
Medvedev was on a visit to the region, which does not include a planned trip to Israel. The Israel leg was canceled earlier this month due to a strike by the country’s Foreign Ministry employees.
Medvedev’s recognition of a Palestinian state comes after the recognition over the past two months by eight Latin American and South American countries.
Israeli officials fear Russia’s recognition will lead to similar declarations by other countries, including China, according to reports.
During Medvedev’s visit to the Palestinian Authority he called on Israel to stop building in the settlements and start direct negotiations. he also promised the Palestinians $10 million in aid.
Russia is a member of the diplomatic Quartet grouping on the Middle East along with the United States, the United Nations and the European Union that is involved in mediating the Israel-Palestinian peace process.