Russia calls on Israel to lift blockade


MOSCOW (JTA) — Russia called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza and allow aid to reach the isolated strip.

A senior Russian diplomat made the statement Thursday during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

On Monday, Israel’s navy turned back a Libyan vessel carrying humanitarian aid bound for Gaza.

American officials sided with the Israelis at an emergency Security Council session where the protests of Libya, one of 10 rotating members of the Security Council, fell on deaf ears. The Russians used more explicit language in calling for an end to the blockade than they have at past gatherings.

"The tensions that arose as a result of Israel’s refusal to permit the boat to reach its destination is a consequence of the protracted crisis caused by the blockade from Israel and the lack of clarity as to how and when it will be removed," said Konstantin Dolgov, deputy permanent representative to the United Nations for Russia, according to the state-owned RIA-Novosti news agency. "Ending the economic isolation of Gaza is an urgent task."

Dolgov also called on the Palestinians to cease their rocket attacks on Israel from within the Gaza Strip. Israel refused the ship on grounds that Libya does not recognize Israel, and therefore the ship posed a threat to national security.

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