Russia has called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides in the Middle East conflict to exercise self-restraint and not to let the political situation escalate, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
"We are extremely concerned about the escalation of the situation in the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. We believe both parties should exercise self-restraint and not undertake actions that might further aggravate the conflict. Issues involving Jerusalem have special significance to followers of the three monotheistic religions, an entirely peaceful community," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.
Israel last week announced the go-ahead for the building of 1,600 houses for Jewish families in the disputed area of East Jerusalem just as the Middle East peace talks were restarting after a 15-month break. The Palestinian authorities have threatened to halt negotiations unless the settlement building plans are abandoned.
Nesterenko underlined that Russia is against unilateral decisions that could prejudice the results of the peace talks. He added that the meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Moscow on Friday should allow a more objective discussion of the issues affecting progress towards a settlement in the region.
MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti)