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Russia Ready to Support Palestinian Statehood at United Nations

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Russia is ready to back a Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

“If the Palestinians appeal to the United Nations to recognize their statehood, Russia will give its support,” Bogdanov said yesterday in response to e-mailed questions from Bloomberg News. The Palestinians have the right to form a viable state living in peace with Israel, he said.

The move won’t erase the need for a negotiated settlement with Israel and Russia stands ready to host leaders from the two main Palestinian factions to assist efforts to form a unified administration of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Bogdanov said.

Leaders of Fatah, the secular group that rules the West Bank, and Hamas, an Islamist faction that controls the Gaza Strip, signed an agreement in Cairo on May 4 to set up a joint interim government that would serve for a year and pave the way for new elections. Talks on implementing the agreement have stalled over a dispute about Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom Hamas is seeking to replace.

“We believe a rapid achievement of Palestinian unity is one of the key factors needed to drive forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process,” Bogdanov said.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and Israel and the Israeli government has said it won’t enter into talks with the Islamist group unless it renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and agrees to honor past peace agreements.

The Middle East peace Quartet -- the U.S., UN, EU and Russia -- is trying to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Negotiations broke down in September 2010 after Israel refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze on construction of settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians say they won’t negotiate while building continues.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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