Israeli Minister of the Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev met with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov in Moscow and protested Russia’s hosting of senior Hamas military operative Saleh al-Arouri as a part of Hamas delegation to Moscow.
The Hamas delegation visited Moscow last week. It was led by a senior member of Hamas Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook. The delegation also included Husam Badran (Hamas international Spokesman) and Saleh ar-Arouri (Minister of Foreign Affairs).
Saleh al-Arouri is a prominent leader of Hamas and founding commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military.
Elkin said that Arouri’s visit to Moscow was a central issue in his meeting with Lavrov. He said he told the Russian foreign minister that Israel and Russia had disagreed for years regarding ties with Hamas, but that this case was an exceptionally severe incident.
According to Elkin, Lavrov was surprised by the remarks and stressed that he wasn’t aware of the case. He turned to some of his advisers present at the meeting and asked them how Arouri had received a visa to enter Russia. After being told that Arouri was part of an official Hamas delegation, Lavrov instructed his advisers to open an investigation and ensure that the case would not be repeated. Elkin added that Lavrov also denied reports that Hamas had opened an official office in Moscow.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov’s meeting with a delegation of Hamas leaders (source):
On September 19, Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with a Hamas delegation led by Political Bureau member Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook. The delegation is in Moscow on a working visit.
During the meeting, the parties had an extensive exchange of opinions on Middle East problems with an emphasis on the situation in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip. The Hamas delegation presented its principled approach in favour of overcoming the internal Palestinian rift as soon as possible. Evidence of this is a statement approved by the Hamas movement following talks with representatives of the Egyptian authorities in Cairo on September 17, which announced the dissolution of the so-called administrative committee, called on the national unity government to extend its power to the Gaza Strip, and agreed to hold Palestinian general elections and resume a dialogue with Fatah.
The Russian side stressed that Moscow had accepted the Hamas statement with satisfaction as a step in the right direction in the context of the movement’s new “moderate” political programme announced on May 1 of this year, including its acceptance of the objective of creating a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and achieving Palestinian national unity.
Russia consistently supports consolidation of the Palestinian ranks on the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Arab Peace Initiative political platform as a necessary condition for realising the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations to establish an independent state of their own in keeping with the principles of international law. We also intend to actively help the Palestinians for the purpose of improving the difficult socio-economic situation in the Gaza Strip.