Israel has right to self-defense – Putin
Israel “certainly” has the right to defend itself against Hamas’ brutality, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Only peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state, as proposed by the UN, can resolve the conflict in the long term, he believes.
The Russian leader reiterated Moscow’s concern over the escalation of violence in the Middle East, stressing that thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed or injured since last Saturday when Hamas launched a surprise incursion out of Gaza.
Israel was subjected “to an attack that was unprecedented in its brutality, and it certainly has the right for defense, to ensure its peaceful existence,” the Russian leader said.
Putin reiterated his position that the ongoing crisis was caused by a failure of US foreign policy. “The Americans, supported by their European satellites, tried to monopolize the Middle East settlement, but did not care about finding a compromise that both sides would find acceptable.”
“The one-sided US line over many years pushed the situation further into a dead end,” Putin added, noting that Israel’s “settlement activities” contributed to the disruption of the peace process.
Reports that Israel may soon launch a ground operation in Gaza have further fueled Russia’s concerns, according to the president. Using heavy military hardware in an urban area “is a difficult business that can lead to serious consequences for all sides,” while not doing so would make the potential operation even more difficult, he said – adding that the civilian casualties will likely be “absolutely unacceptable.”
The Russian leader reiterated a call for de-escalation and said that implementing the UN-endorsed two-state proposal, under which a Palestinian state would have a capital in East Jerusalem, appears to be the only way towards a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Putin was speaking in Kyrgyzstan at a meeting of the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an intergovernmental organization uniting nations that were once parts of the USSR.
Israel has vowed to obliterate Hamas for its deadly attack. Its military has laid siege to Gaza. On Thursday, it ordered everyone living in the northern part of the coastal territory (over 1 million people) to relocate south within 24 hours for their personal safety.