Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Monday for Palestinian terrorists to release a captured Israeli soldier and stop attacking Israeli cities. He called on Israel to exercise restraint. "The most important thing right now is to achieve the release of the captive Israeli soldier," Lavrov said, adding that Moscow was using all available channels to assist in that aim.
He and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni held talks as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians soared over an Israeli soldier captured more than a week ago. The three Palestinian terror groups that captured the soldier issued an ultimatum Monday giving Israel until 6 a.m. Tuesday to start releasing Palestinian prisoners or "bear all the consequences."
Lavrov, speaking to reporters alongside Livni, said it was necessary to "by all means stop the spiral of violence, which requires restraint and wisdom." "Such restraint, together with the involvement of the international community, can lead to dialogue restarting and the two sides can go back to implementing the 'Road Map,"' Lavrov said.
Livni calls for international pressure
Livni said she had hesitated to come to Russia at such a tense time, but said Israel believed Russia's role "can be very important" in helping solve the crisis. She thanked Lavrov for calling for the unconditional release of the soldier.
"I hope that the signal that Russia and the international community are sending will help us achieve the desired result," She said.
However, she expressed Israel's displeasure with Russia's having hosted a high-level Hamas delegation earlier this year, when Moscow broke ranks with other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast negotiators. "If someone still had any doubts about the character of Hamas, the recent events days have demonstrated that the government claims responsibility for terrorist attacks and strives to conduct negotiations concerning those terrorist attacks with Israel," Livni said.
"Elections are not some kind of a washing machine whereby a terrorist organization can wash itself. Terror is terror," She said.