Russia has reiterated its call for the United Nations to send an international mission to the Middle East to try to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
“In current circumstances, the Russian initiative to send a UN Security Council mission to the Middle East is especially relevant because it aims to bring the sides back to talks,” Alexander Pankin, the first deputy of Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said during a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday.
The Quartet of international mediators of the Arab-Israeli conflict was to meet on April 15 to discuss steps to be made to resume direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, but the meeting was postponed at the request of the United States. Russia, which comprises the Quartet together with the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, has expressed its regret over the decision to delay the talks, which had already been postponed from mid-March.
The Israeli-Palestinian talks have been stalled since September over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to halt settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and the Palestinians’ unwillingness to continue dialogue unless the construction is stopped.
Pankin called on Israel on Thursday to stop settlements building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the blockade of Gaza. Pointing to a recent escalation of violence in Gaza, he also called on Palestinian movement Hamas controlling the enclave to make all efforts to assure security there.
Pankin also stressed the importance of inter-Palestinian reconciliation for the creation of an “independent, viable, territorially integral and sovereign Palestinian state.”
UNITED NATIONS, April 22 (RIA Novosti)