BEIRUT

Middle East

Russia tells Israel to agree to cease-fire

An Israeli Merkava tank rolls back from the Gaza Strip to an army base at the Israeli-Gaza border as the sun sets August 3, 2014. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

MOSCOW: Russia said Mondaythat it had called on Israel to agree to a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, in a phone call between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also told his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman that the foes "should reach an agreement that excludes the return to violence in which mostly innocent civilians suffer."

The Russian foreign ministry statement did not mention whether Lavrov had brought up the Palestinian casualties suffered during three attacks on U.N.-operated schools and refugee centres in Gaza that the militants and most Western leaders blame on Israeli troops.

Moscow supported the Palestinian cause in the Soviet era but established warmer ties with Israel in the past two decades.

But its influence in the region has dropped off substantially and Moscow no longer plays an important mediating role between the two sides.

 

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