Newspapers in Russia and Israel are surprised by President Putin's invitation to Hamas leaders to Moscow and see it as a sign of a split within the Quartet over Middle East policy, with one Israeli commentator calling it "a disgrace for Russia".
One Israeli paper called Putin's invitation a 'disgrace'
Arabic papers appear more supportive of the initiative, with one arguing that neither Israel nor the US has the right "to tell Russia whom it can invite".
While not commenting directly on the invitation, Palestinian papers repeat that Israel must make the first move towards peace and ask whether the Quartet will "be able to convince it to do so".
It is clear that the Russian initiative is supposed to demonstrate Moscow's effectiveness as an intermediary in the Middle East peace process. Apparently, the Kremlin failed to take Israel's possible reaction into consideration... Israeli spokesmen openly indicate that Moscow's current position may end up seriously undermining its intermediary role in the Middle East settlement instead of boosting it.
ANDREY GOLUBOV IN RUSSIA'S GAZETA
The statement by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero that "Russia's role will be a decisive one in the Middle East peace process" may be seen as a hint that Spain and the European community on the whole recognise the defeat, or at least a serious "slippage", of US foreign policy in the Middle East.
SEVER PLUTZKER IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT
The invitation Putin extended to Hamas is not only a slap in the face of Israel; it is also a disgrace for Russia... Yet KGB graduate President Putin dreams of taking Russia back to meddling in the Middle East... This is a blood covenant: Putin's hands are soiled with Chechen blood, Hamas' hands are soiled with Israeli blood.
BEN KASPIT IN ISRAEL'S MAARIV
Putin identified a great, rare opportunity to become again the main, central player in the Middle East, the only one capable of delivering the goods and mediating between the two sides.
ARNON REGULAR IN ISRAEL'S HAARETZ
Putin's invitation is evidence of the split in the international community, and Hamas is trying to exploit this split to soften the demands that it recognise Israel and accept existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians... Putin's invitation offers Hamas its best chance yet to improve its hand vis-a-vis the West.
Shouldn't there have been an American initiative, parallel to the Russian initiative, to remove the obstacles to dialogue between Hamas and Washington?
UK BASED AL-QUDS AL-ARABI
President Vladimir Putin's statement that he was determined to invite Hamas leaders to Moscow represents a major turning point in Russia's stance towards the Arab-Israeli conflict... Therefore, neither the USA nor Israel has the right to tell Russia whom it can invite.
SAMIH SHBAYB IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM
Israel, the United States and the Quartet will have to climb down the tree and admit that it would be impossible to make Hamas recognise Israel for nothing in return. Israel should first stop its unilateral separation policy. So will the United States and the Quartet be able to convince it to do so?
ASHRAF AL-AJRAMI IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM
Hamas as a movement is not required to recognise Israel... Hamas' condition that Israel recognise the Palestinian people's rights before Hamas recognises Israel is rational.
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