The Palestinian Problem in the Middle East Policy of the USSR / Russia

Tatyana V. Nosenko – PhD in History, sciences, leading researcher of the Israel and Jewish Communities department of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Russian Federation, 107031, Moscow, Rojdestvenka street, 12. E-mail:
Vladimir A. Isaev – Doctor of Economics, Chief Researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Professor, Institute of Asian and African countries of Moscow State University. Russian Federation, 107031, Moscow, Rozhdestvenka street, 12. E-mail:
Elena S. Melkumyan – Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of the Chair of the Modern East of the Russian State Humanitarian University, and a leading researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Russian Federation, 107031, Moscow, Rozhdestvenka street, 12. E-mail:
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The article reveals the stages in the formation of the USSR policy in the field of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution, the features of the developed policy and practical conclusions that could be useful in advancing the current Middle East policy of the Russian Federation.

Initially, the Soviet Union perceived the Palestinian theme primarily from the point of view of the problem of refugees. However, Moscow increasingly felt the need for reliable allies in the region. The movement for cooperation between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the USSR was bilateral: the PLO departed from revolutionary romanticism and began to follow a pragmatic line to expand contacts with opponents of Israel. Moscow began to consider the activities of the PLO as part of the national liberation movement, took a sharply anti-Israeli stance. Such a distortion led to a loss of freedom of maneuver in the region and to the announcement of deliberately non-constructive proposals for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Only since 1985 the USSR returned to a more flexible position, which sought to combine the interests of the Palestinian people and Israel.

At the present stage, Russian diplomacy uses Soviet experience and connections, especially in the sphere of personal contacts. But Russia’s role in the Middle East conflict resolution has decreased due to subjective and objective reasons. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the Civil War in Syria, Palestinian issues have become secondary in the agenda of Moscow, which, however, can lead to a new surge of violence and tension. Special relations with the Palestinian national liberation movement have always been an advantage of Soviet and then Russian diplomacy. The authors believe that this advantage should be used more actively to strengthen Russia’s positions in the region.

Key words: Palestine, Israel, conflict, PLO, Soviet diplomacy, Middle East.

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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-4-55-113-126 (Read the article in PDF)