Russia accuses US of ‘destructive’ approach on Israeli–Palestinian war

By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia condemned violence against both Jews and Palestinians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday, but criticised the United States for what it said was its destructive approach which had ignored the need for an independent Palestinian state.

Israeli troops were battling Hamas gunmen on Monday, more than two days after the militants burst across the fence from Gaza on a deadly rampage. The army said it would soon go on the offensive after the biggest mobilisation in Israeli history.

The Kremlin called for a return to peace and said it was “extremely concerned” that the violence could escalate into a broader conflict in the Middle East.

Russia, which has relationships with Arab countries, Iran and Hamas as well as with Israel, said the West had ignored the need for an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the violence but said the West was shortsighted if it believed it could simply condemn attacks against Israel and then hope for an Israeli victory without solving the cause of instability – the Palestinian problem itself.

“I cannot but fail to mention the destructive policy of the United States which thwarts collective efforts within the framework of the Quartet of international mediators,” Lavrov told reporters after talks in Moscow with Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The United States, Lavrov said, had sought to “monopolise” dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and move away from the creation of a Palestinian state in favour to talks about easing the social-economic problems of Palestinians.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital – all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

The Quartet, set up in 2002, consists of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. Its mandate was to help mediate peace and support Palestinians in preparation for eventual statehood.

Israel said on Monday it had called up 300,000 reservists and warned residents of parts of Gaza to leave, signs it could be planning a ground assault to defeat Hamas.

“This situation is potentially fraught with the danger of spillover, and therefore, of course, it is a subject of our special concern these days,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

At talks in Moscow, Aboul Gheit told Lavrov that he agreed about the need for the violence to stop but said such events would continue as long as the Palestinian problem remained unresolved.

“We completely reject violence, but on both sides,” said Aboul Gheit, who served as Egypt’s foreign minister during the final seven years of Hosni Mubarak’s rule. “The Palestinian problem cannot be postponed any longer, and the U.N. decisions must be implemented.”

Russia’s ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov said one “young man” who held both Russian and Israeli citizenships was killed in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the weekend, Russian media reported on Monday.

(Editing by Andrew Osborn and Gareth Jones; Editing by Angus MacSwan)