MOSCOW (JTA) – Russia’s president ordered top foreign officials to prepare a delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict.
Dmitry Medvedev’s call Monday came after weekend telephone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas called Medvedev while Moscow reached out to Olmert, according to Kremlin statements.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, the president’s special envoy to the Middle East, flew to the conflict zone on Sunday to press for a cease-fire, the foreign ministry said.
After speaking with Abbas, Medvedev released a statement calling for an immediate end to hostilities.
In his conversation with Olmert, Medvedev said that Russia wanted to express "its serious concern over the numerous victims among the civilian population and the grave humanitarian situation," according to a statement released by the Kremlin.
Russia has sought to portray itself in recent years as a go-between for Arab and Israeli peace efforts. The country has historical ties to Arab states from the Soviet era and a large population of ethnic Russians live in Israel.