Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Russia in a bid to win support for his Fatah movement after Hamas forcibly took control of the Gaza Strip on June 14. Russia is the only member of the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace brokers still in contact with Hamas. After meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Palestinian president said “There is no doubt that what is happening in Gaza is a coup, an uprising against the law. We are well aware of the seriousness of the situation between Fatah and Hamas.”
Meanwhile Israel has agreed to allow thousands of Palestinians stranded in the Egyptian border town of Rafah to return home via the Israeli border crossing of Eres. As many as 6,000 Palestinians left Gaza through Rafah before Hamas took control of the Strip. As the conflict gained momentum the border was closed, leaving the Palestinians with no obvious route home.