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Trump Says Israeli Settlements Complicate Peace Course of

15 February 2018

Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Russia and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in an attempt to boost the standing of the PA and garner support for a Palestinian state, in the wake of deteriorating relations between the Palestinians and Washington.

Putin also commented that stability in the region is "far from what we want to see".

In addition, the presidents discussed other topics of common concern - Trump, in particular, told Putin that more steps should be taken to ensure North Korea gives up its nuclear program, the White House said.

Abbas reacted in anger in December when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and set in motion the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv.

Phone calls between the two leaders have received heightened attention due to the federal investigation into Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign was involved.

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Trump and Putin last spoke in December, when Putin called Trump to thank him for a Central Intelligence Agency tip that was said to have helped thwart bombings in St Petersburg.

"I just had a phone conversation with the President of the United States of America, [Donald] Trump", the Russian President said.

"We state that from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the U.S. in its status of a mediator", Abbas said in Moscow.

Nofal said that "Abbas announced that for Palestinians, the United States is not welcome to play the role of broker because of its bias towards Israel".

"Israel Hayom" newspaper is owned by prominent Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, and is widely seen as being strongly supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Trump White House has been less publicly critical of Israel's settlement building than previous administrations.

He is also looking to get backing for an global mechanism for Middle East peace talks to supplant the United States as the leading player.

Abbas was originally scheduled to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the Russian leader canceled the trip to remain in the capital to monitor developments after the crash of a passenger plane killed 71 people outside of Moscow on February 11. The statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that talks with the U.S. has been on over the possibility of Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drew swift condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

Abbas sees Russian Federation as an emerging power in the Middle East and hopes that Russian Federation, together with other global powers, can serve as brokers of an arrangement that will deliver a Palestinian state.

"The Palestinian side insists of forming a multilateral approach to overlook the peace process with the Israeli side", Abbas advisor, Majdi Khalidi, told Voice of Palestine in an interview.

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Trump Says Israeli Settlements Complicate Peace Course of