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Egypt on Thursday blasted a prominent group of Middle East peacemakers for blaming the Palestinians for the recent upsurge in fighting and sparing Israel any criticism.
The Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which includes Russia, the US, the UN and the EU, urged an end to fighting Wednesday between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, calling on the Palestinian government to "do everything necessary to restore law and order." The group, which met in Berlin, also urged "all Palestinians to immediately renounce all acts of violence and respect the cease-fire."
Alaa el-Hadidy, a spokesman for Egypt's foreign ministry, described the Quartet's statement Thursday as "unbalanced."
"This is tantamount to giving a green light to Israel to continue its operations in the Palestinian territories," el-Hadidy said in a statement. "The credibility of the Quartet, as a neutral side, is now at stake."
A five-month truce in Gaza unraveled earlier this month when the Hamas militant group began firing barrages of rockets into southern Israel, prompting Israel to respond with a series of airstrikes. More than 50 Palestinians, most of them militants, and two Israeli civilians have been killed.
The four countries also called for the release of British Broadcasting Corp. journalist Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza on March 12.
"How come the Quartet demands the immediate release of an Israeli soldier and does not condemn the kidnapping (by Israel) of the Palestinian lawmakers," el-Hadidy said.
The group has seen renewed activity in recent months, though violence has continued. They plan to meet again in June, this time with Arab representatives in the Middle East. The Quartet produced the stalled road map peace plan that was to culminate with statehood for the Palestinians.