Russia criticises end of Israeli settlement freeze
Russia on Tuesday expressed "serious concern" at the expiry of a freeze on Israeli settlements, calling on the Israelis and Palestinians not to jeopardise peace talks with unilateral action.
"Moscow has serious concerns over the fact that the moratorium on Israeli settlement activity ... has not been preserved," foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement published Tuesday.
Direct peace negotiations, relaunched on September 2 after months of tortuous diplomacy, were on the brink of collapse after a 10-month moratorium on the building of new settler homes in the West Bank expired on Sunday.
"This is bad for talks, for the political atmosphere in the region and for the prospects of establishing a fair and long-lasting peace there," Nesterenko said.
The ministry spokesman called on both sides to desist from "unilateral actions, settlement and violence."
The Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union) appealed during a March meeting in Moscow for a peace agreement within two years, leading to a two-state solution.
© 2010 AFP