Middle East: Annan calls for urgent steps to stem violence, build confidence

Middle East: Annan calls for urgent steps to stem violence, build confidence

Reacting to the escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for urgent steps to control the situation and bring the parties back to the negotiating table.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement that the Secretary-General urged Israel to end its six-month old blockade on Palestinian areas and transfer all outstanding revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Annan also called for the full implementation of the understandings reached at last year's Sharm El-Sheikh Summit.

In making his call, the Secretary-General warned that the current violence "threatens to get out of control with unpredictable consequences." He emphasized that security measures alone would not halt the unrest and reiterated his strong conviction that the current crisis could only be resolved through the resumption of political negotiations.

Meanwhile, in a letter released today at UN Headquarters, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People urged the Secretary-General to remain actively engaged with the parties in an effort to end the violence and resume the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

Ibra Deguène Ka also said that the UN could take steps to help protect Palestinian civilians, such as setting up a protection mechanism in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.

"The Committee is of the view that, in the circumstances, the parties may need outside assistance in order to break out of the vicious circle of violence," wrote the Chairman. "A more assertive approach may be considered - one that would benefit both sides and help restore calm."