The National Security Advisor of Russia, Igor Ivanov, stressed yesterday the need to invest in the latest positive developments in the Middle East peace process.

Speaking in the Russian capital after having visited the region, Ivanov said that his country has been playing a valuable role in the release of the captured Israeli soldiers in both Gaza and Lebanon. He stated that a possible prisoner swap deal might help push forward peace negotiations in the region, affirming that both the Palestinian government and the Palestinian presidency have appeared committed to the implementation of the agreements signed with Israel.

Ivanov hailed the latest meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, calling for the promotion of the Israel-Syrian peace track. “Ministers of the Quartet will shortly hold a meeting to inject momentum into the peace process”, Ivanov said.

The Quartet, of which Russia is a member, has reaffirmed a boycott of the Palestinian national unity government until the latter recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts past signed agreements.

The international community’s boycott of the Palestinian government has included a crippling economic embargo, leading to the highest rate of poverty recorded throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, estimated at about 80%.