An interesting little moment in history: Russia’s President Dimitri Medvedev crosses from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and visits the West Bank City of Jericho to pay a call on the Palestinian Authority. He does not go to Ramallah, and he does not go to Israel.
Simultaneously, thousands of Orthodox Christians have gathered in Jericho to celebrate the baptism of Christ along the Jordan River.
Haaretz reported that “Medvedev drove into the West Bank in a convoy from Amman airport in Jordan, crossing over the historic Allenby Bridge in an unusual route for a head of state that was dictated by an Israeli foreign ministry strike, which had forced him to cancel the Israel leg of his trip. Officials said they could not remember when a visitor of that level had used the Allenby crossing, which was shut down to normal traffic for the occasion. The crossing is controlled by Israeli immigration and security. Medvedev drew applause from Palestinians when he noted that ‘this is the first visit of a Russian president to Palestine not united with a visit to another country’ — a clear reference to Israel which would normally have been his first stop. Russia is a partner of the United States, European Union and United Nations in ‘the Quartet’ of international powers overseeing Middle East peace negotiations. A number of former Soviet bloc east European states that are now in the EU also recognized Palestine in 1988. But the United States and west European governments do not. Quartet foreign ministers were due to meet next month in Munich to discuss ways to revive the Middle East peace process”. This is posted here.
The Jerusalem Post said here that Medvedev “stopped short” of endorsing the 1967 borders…
The New York Times reported that “Mr. Medvedev, on his first trip to the area as president, was scheduled to visit Israel as well, but that part of his itinerary had to be postponed because of a strike by employees of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Foreign Ministry officials, striking for more pay and better conditions, said this month that they were unable to prepare for the planned visit” … In Jericho, Mr. Medvedev told reporters that Russia fully supported ‘the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent, territorially contiguous and viable state with its capital in East Jerusalem’. He said Russia’s position “remains unchanged,” referring to the Soviet Union’s support for the Palestinian declaration of independence of 1988, which was issued by Yasir Arafat in Algiers”. This is posted here.
However, because he travelled in and out of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Allenby Bridge near Jericho was closed all day, by Israeli decision.
Daoud Kuttab wrote: “Even though President Medvedev is probably only going to spend a few minutes crossing the bridge (compared to hours that locals spend) and at most an hour or more at this remote Jordan Valley location, the orders were made to close the bridge an entire day…