Israel's restrictions violate its international obligations, UN envoy says

19 April 2001

A United Nations envoy for the peace process in the Middle East today told Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres that restrictions on UN personnel in the West Bank and Gaza violated the country's international obligations.

During a meeting held in the Foreign Minister's Tel Aviv office, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, referred in particular to the blockage this morning of a convoy of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was trying to reach the south of Gaza.

Describing that incident, a UN spokesman in New York said UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen had been blocked at an Israeli check point for an hour and a half as he was on his way from Gaza to the Khan Yunis and Rafah refugee camps "to get a first-hand look at the recent damage from the fighting which took place there."

Spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters that Mr. Hansen and his party "were eventually allowed to proceed after UN staff contacted officials at the highest level at Israeli Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv."

In his meeting with the Foreign Minister later that day, Mr. Roed-Larsen stressed the critical importance of UNRWA's work and expressed his full support for the efforts of its Commissioner-General.

The discussion covered a range of issues, including security questions, political issues, the economic crisis in the Palestinian territories and the humanitarian situation.

Foreign Minister Peres invited Commissioner-General Hansen and Mr. Roed-Larsen to meet with him tomorrow to discuss a full range of issues related to humanitarian access.

Reached by phone in Gaza, a spokesman for Mr. Roed-Larsen told the UN News Service that the meeting would take place.

 

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