Skip to main content

What we know about Palestinian talks in Russia seeking unity

The meeting, in which rival Palestinian factions endorsed unity under the PLO umbrella, follows the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and comes as Russia is seeking a diplomatic role in the war.
A young boy carries the flag of Fatah as he walks past a mural painting of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, during a solidarity march with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 27, 2023.

Palestinian factions urged further unity at a meeting in the Russian capital this week following the resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and amid further escalation in the Gaza war.

Russia’s official news agency Tass reported that delegations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad met in Moscow on Thursday. The meetings were due to continue through Saturday, according to the agency.

The participants pledged to unify under the PLO umbrella following the meeting, according to a statement published by the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency on Friday.

“We agreed that our meetings will continue in the upcoming rounds of dialogue to reach a comprehensive national unity that includes all Palestinian forces and factions in the framework of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” they said in the statement.

The participants “expressed thanks and appreciation to the Russian leadership” for hosting the meetings, condemned the “criminal Israeli aggression" in the Palestinian territories and praised South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice

Speaking at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the factions for expressing support for unity within the PLO.

“Unless it remains a slogan, it will actually be a good step forward for them to get truly united and to speak in the same language to the outside world,” he said, according to Tass.

The PLO is internationally recognized as the representatives of the Palestinian people. It is currently led by Abbas. The Islamist Hamas is not a member of the organization and has historically been a rival to the secular nationalist Fatah. Hamas gained internal control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a brief war with Fatah.

The statement published by Safa did not list any specific individual participants. Al Jazeera reported that Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, was in Moscow, while Tass named Ayman Al-Raqab as among the Fatah officials present.

Why it matters: The Moscow meetings come at a critical time in Palestinian politics after Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned on Monday. Shtayyeh said his resignation would pave the way for Palestinian reconciliation and the extension of Palestinian Authority (PA) rule over the Gaza Strip in addition to the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas is raging on, with the death toll reaching 30,000 this week, displacement affecting 80% of the population and the United Nations warning of famine. Another roughly 1,600 were killed in Israel during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

A push by the United States to reach humanitarian truce has failed to yield results so far.

Know more: Russia has hosted Palestinian groups a few times since the start of the Gaza war. A Hamas delegation visited Russia in January and in October. Russia urged the release of Israeli and foreign hostages held by Hamas in Gaza during the January meeting, Russian officials said at the time.