The Hamas leader had been expected to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on January 15.

Report: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh cancels trip to Moscow
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he speaks during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas’ founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)


A trip to Moscow next week by the leader of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been canceled, Interfax news agency quoted the ambassador for the Palestinian Authority to Russia as saying on Thursday.

The Hamas leader had been expected to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Jan. 15.

The Palestinian Authority notified the Kremlin in December of its opposition to Haniyeh’s visit, which Russian officials said was part of an effort to end the rift between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

“We have told the Russians that we’re not happy with the invitation of Haniyeh,” a PA official told The Jerusalem Post at the time. “Haniyeh is the leader of a Palestinian group that staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip in 2007. He does not hold any official position in the Palestinian leadership.”

The official said that while the PA “fully appreciates Russia’s sincere effort to end divisions among the Palestinians, we believe that the only way to achieve national unity is for Hamas to implement previous reconciliation agreements with Fatah, especially the last one signed in Cairo late last year.”

The PA official expressed fear that Russia’s intervention in Palestinian affairs would undermine ongoing mediation efforts by Egypt to end the Hamas-Fatah rivalry.

“If Haniyeh is keen on ending the dispute [with Fatah], he should respond positively to Egyptian efforts to achieve Palestinian unity,” he said. “There’s no need to travel to Moscow or any other country. All Hamas needs to do is accept the latest Egyptian initiative to end the dispute and agree to the implementation of the reconciliation accords.”

“We have invited [Haniyeh] and he accepted the invitation with gratitude,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said. “[The visit] is likely to take place early next year.”

“In our opinion, the priority should be the establishment of the Palestinian national unity,” he added. “In our view, it is extremely important that Fatah and Hamas, together with other Palestinian organizations, meet and agree on the restoration of political and geographical unity.”

As reported by The Jerusalem Post