Russia

Authored by: Robert O. Freedman

The Routledge Handbook on the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415778626
eBook ISBN: 9780203079553
Adobe ISBN: 9781136160691

10.4324/9780203079553.ch27

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Abstract

Any examination of the triangular relationship between the Soviet Union, the Palestinians, and Israel reveals that, depending on its larger diplomatic interests in the Middle East and in the world as a whole, Moscow has shifted back and forth between the two Middle Eastern peoples. During most of the post-World War II period, until the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, Moscow, despite its initial recognition of and support for Israel in the 1947–9 period, tended to back the Arabs in their conflict with Israel. By the late 1960s, this backing took in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as well. Under Gorbachev, Moscow pursued an “even-handed” policy between the Palestinians and Israel, and in the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Moscow's ties were, for the most part, far stronger with Israel than with the Palestinians. Under Vladimir Putin, however, who became Russia's president in 2000, Moscow's relations with Israel cooled as Putin, while seeking to maintain good bilateral relations with Israel, chose to adopt an anti-Israeli Middle Eastern regional policy which involved not only the selling of arms to Syria and Iran – both enemies of Israel – but also the diplomatic legitimization of Hamas, an Islamic political organization whose avowed goal is the destruction of Israel.

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