UNITED NATIONS, May 16. /TASS/. A top priority task of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement effort is to establish a ceasefire, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said on Sunday.
"A top priority task now is to cease fire and stop hostilities. We call on the parties to respect the norms of international humanitarian law, to avoid damages to civilian population and infrastructure used by journalists and mass media," he said at an extraordinary online meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.
According to Vershinin, Russia strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians both in Israel and in Palestine. "Armed confrontation, which has already led to the deaths and wounds of dozens of people, including women and children, must be immediately stopped," he stressed.
The Russian diplomat expressed "sincere condolences to the families of those killed and wounded" on both sides and noted that Moscow was profoundly concerned over the "swift degradation of the situation in the conflict zone."
"The parties must realize their responsibility for the future of millions of Israeli and Palestinians, for internal civil awareness. The issue of protection of medical personnel requires special attention," he added.
Russia calls for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators (the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and the United States), including in an extended format, Vershinin added.
"We think it important to urgently organize a meeting of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators at a ministerial level," he said at an extraordinary online meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.
"We also suggest a ministerial meeting in the extended format involving leading regional nations be called to coordinate the Quartet’s actions with the key regional players," he added.
He also noted that Russia insists that attempts to change East Jerusalem’s geographical, demographical and historic status are legally void.
"Now, it is necessary to respect the status quo of the holy sites, to ensure the rights and freedoms of believers to religious practices in East Jerusalem, the cradle of three religions, and to reckon with the high sensitivity of this problem," he said at an extraordinary online meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. "In this context, we believe that any attempts to change East Jerusalem’s geographical, demographical and historic status are legally void."
Moscow calls for efforts to create conditions for relaunching peace dialogue between Palestine and Israel, said Vershinin said.
"It is necessary to waste no time to create condition for relaunching the Palestinian-Israeli peace dialogue on the basis of existing resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, the principle of two states, Palestine and Israel, coexisting in peace and security," he said at an extraordinary online meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.
According to the Russian senior diplomat, dialogue between Palestine and Israel requires "refusal from any unilateral steps, including settlement activities, destruction of Palestinian dwelling facilities, eviction of the Arab population from the places of their original residence, provocations and incitement to violence." "The practice of creating irrevocable situations on the ground that would influence the final solution must be stopped," he added.
According to Vershinin, the current escalation has been provoked by a combination of factors, with the key one of them being the lack of direct talks between Palestine and Israel. "Such talks are called to help Palestinians and Israelis work our solutions to all fundamental issues of the final status," he stressed. He also stressed that Russia’s invitation to hold a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow is still on the table.
Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have been exchanging missile strikes since May 10, following an outburst of unrest near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City in early May. Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police were triggered by an Israeli court ruling to seize dwelling houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from Arab families who have been living there for more than 50 years in favor of Jewish resettlers who had reportedly owned these buildings before 1948.
According to the latest reports, at least ten Israelis and 202 Palestinians, including 52 children, have been killed.
The Israel Defense Forces said earlier that Palestinian radicals had fired 2,900 missiles since Monday, As many as 1,150 of them had been intercepted.