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Palestinian factions to oppose Trump's deal in Russian-sponsored talks

Sergei Lavrov said the meetings in Moscow are a step toward ending the Palestinian rift
Sergei Lavrov shakes hands with Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad during a meeting with representatives of Palestinian groups in Moscow (AFP)

Palestinian factions, including rivals Fatah and Hamas, on Tuesday met for Russian-sponsored talks in Moscow, in an attempt to form a united front to oppose US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" that is expected to be announced this month.

The Palestinian inter-party talks in Moscow are happening while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas landed in Saudi Arabia on Monday in a mission to persuade King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to oppose Trump's deal and support the PA demands of a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.

Abbas arrived in Riyadh with his top officials, including intelligence chief Majed Faraj, secretary general Saeb Erekat of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, and Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas's diplomatic advisor.

Meanwhile, Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, leftist parties the PFLP and DFLP, and the communist People Party met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow before the launch of the talks, which is hosted by the Orientalism Institute that belongs to Russia's foreign ministry.

Lavrov said the meetings are "a step to enhance the path toward ending the Palestinian rift, but this will not be before clearing all the small factional interests".

Lavrov urged Palestinian representatives to take their time in talks that would be extended till Wednesday and are expected to produce a final joint declaration by the Palestinian parties.

Fatah and Egypt officials told their Russia counterparts that the reconciliation deal that was struck between Fatah and Hamas in 2011 to end their rivalry is not on the table of the talks, Al-Akhbar reported.

A Fatah official told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the meeting would enhance the chances of reconciliation but "it will not be a substitute of meetings in Egypt, which is the sponsor of the Palestinian reconciliation".

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a near civil war with Abbas's Fatah party.

Still, the PA took control of the Gaza Rafah crossing in November 2017 as part of a deal that saw Egypt reopen a border that had been shut from August that year and sealed for years before that, AFP said.  

The PA is based in the city of Ramallah and only governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is separated from the Gaza Strip by Israeli territory.

Several attempts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas have failed in recent years. 

The internationally recognised PA has tightened pressure on Hamas in recent months by reducing the salaries of civil servants in Gaza, which has been squeezed by a long Israeli blockade.