The United States and Russia will meet with a special envoy for the Middle East on July 31 in Geneva to continue their conversations in their search for a solution to the deadly violence in Gaza. The meeting is the second in less than two weeks between Washington and Moscow. The trip comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from a separate meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
The following day, there will be a round of indirect talks between American and Russian diplomats in Geneva as part of a commitment made during the President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki in July. Mr. Pompeo announced the meetings during a recent visit to Israel, during which he and his chief peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt met in Jerusalem with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seek a diplomatic solution to the violence that has erupted in Gaza in recent weeks.
The two officials continue their discussions in Geneva as tensions rise in Gaza. On Tuesday, at least four Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers in clashes in the West Bank and in Gaza, while more than 2,700 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli troops since March 30, when large numbers of protesters first swarmed the border and refused to cross in protest of an American Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the Hamas protests a “coordinated provocation.”
World powers have long expressed fears about a miscalculation by the Israelis or Palestinians in any kind of confrontation, leading to a massive loss of life. The United States is the closest ally Israel has and President Trump has supported Israel publicly throughout his presidency, but the cease-fire does not include much change to the fundamental policy in which the United States continues to favor the Palestinians and boycott the 2016 Israeli-Gaza-Jordanian border deal, known as the “Biltmore Accords,” which was meant to end the 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Neither Washington nor Moscow has released a definitive statement about their intentions, but in theory, the talks could lead to the restoration of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and ease tensions in the region. However, despite the tensions, the creation of such a deal might be a tough sell for any U.S. administration in particular, which just started a new term and currently has a shaky relationship with Israel.
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