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Russia says fuel cuts to Gaza harm Israeli-Palestinian dialogue

RIA Novosti

29/10/2007 17:52 MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia believes that Israeli fuel cuts to Gaza in response to militant rocket attacks on Israel will damage political dialogue, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Israel reduced fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The small, crowded enclave, controlled by Islamist militant group Hamas, is heavily dependent on Israel for its fuel and electricity.

"To our mind, these measures on the part of Israel run counter to the ongoing talks between [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert," Mikhail Kamynin said.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved temporary shut-downs of electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip in the event of further rocket attacks against Israel. In September, Tel Aviv declared Gaza a "hostile entity."

Israel's latest sanctions, expected to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in impoverished Gaza, have come under criticism from the European Union and rights groups. Palestinian officials have warned that power outages in hospitals could put lives in danger.

Negotiations on a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians were resumed when President Abbas broke with Hamas following the Islamists' takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, which left the president and his Fatah forces in control of only the West Bank.

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