Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has made contact with Russia's Foreign Minister. The leader of the government in Gaza spoke to Sergey Lavrov in a phone call on Wednesday and discussed several major issues.
In the 30-minute conversation, Mr Haniyeh described the hardships facing the people of Gaza who have been living under an Israeli-led siege since 2006. He called for Russia to intervene to get the siege lifted. One of the immediate benefits of this would be the end of the electricity crisis in the beleaguered territory.
At the same time, Mr Lavrov listened to the prime minister giving details of the ongoing Israeli violations of international laws and conventions against the Palestinians, the city of Jerusalem and Muslim and Christian holy places. The issue of Israel's illegal settlements was also discussed. "Such policies and practices," said Haniyeh, "are in place not only as the peace talks are at a standstill but also as the burden on the Palestinians gets greater." In fact, he added, Israel's actions contradict the very basis of peace negotiations.
Asked about the efforts being made for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, Prime Minister Haniyeh said that there had been contact with the rival movement earlier this week. He thanked Lavrov for Russia's concerns about Palestine and stressed the importance of maintaining bilateral relations.
In a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mr Lavrov called for a "quick" lifting of the siege on Gaza "to help relieve the difficult humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population."
He also expressed his support for the Palestinian cause and for a peaceful solution for all Palestinian-Israeli issues, while reiterating the need to establish an independent Palestinian state.
Lavrov also hailed Haniyeh's stance regarding Palestinian reconciliation and his efforts to end the division. He concurred with the prime minister's thoughts on the importance of maintaining strong relations between Russia and Palestine.