Putin urges ‘renunciation of violence’ in Gaza during call with Erdogan


MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called for an end to the violence on the Gaza border during a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said.

The leaders discussed “the mass protest actions on Palestinian territories” and expressed “serious concern over the deaths of a large number of participants,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

During the conversation, “the Russian side stressed the importance of renouncing violence (and) the need to establish a productive talks process with the aim of seeking mutually acceptable outcomes based on the relevant UN resolutions,” the Kremlin added.

Erdogan has accused Israel of “genocide” over its handling of the clashes on its border with the Gaza Strip, which peaked on Monday as the United States inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem in a move opposed by the Palestinians and much of the international community.

Erdogan’s fierce criticism of Israel and decision to recall its ambassadors from Israel and the United States prompted a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who noted Erdogan’s staunch backing of Hamas.

That led Turkey to expel Israel’s ambassador to the country, prompting Israel to order the Turkish consul to Jerusalem to leave the country. Turkey, in turn, expelled Israel’s consul in Istanbul.

A group of Palestinians allegedly trying to plant an improvised explosive device along the Gaza security fence, under the cover of heavy smoke, during mass protests along the border on May 14, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has accused Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, of organizing the violent protests. It also said Hamas uses the riots as cover to carry out attacks and damage the border fence and that many of those killed were its members.

Backing Israel, the US government has placed the blame for the bloodshed with Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday it was “blasphemous” to call dozens of “peaceful” Palestinians killed during the Gaza border riots “terrorists”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting with his Dutch counterpart in Moscow on April 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov)

“I cannot agree with the fact that dozens of peaceful civilians, including children and infants, who were killed in these incidents were terrorists. This is a blasphemous statement,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.

His comments came as Hamas said 50 of those killed this week were members of the terror group. The Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad had said on Tuesday that three members of its Saraya al-Quds military wing were killed by Israeli forces in Khan Younis.

Lavrov also stressed the need for dialogue on the status of Jerusalem, saying that “this topic cannot be a matter for unilateral decisions” and requires “direct dialogue between the leadership of Israel and Palestine.”

Last year, Russia said it considers West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, making it the first country in the world to extend such a recognition to any part of the city.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of their future state.

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