Annan concerned at Israel's move to set up military zone in Palestinian territory

Annan concerned at Israel's move to set up military zone in Palestinian territory

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today voiced his concern over an announced move by Israel to set up a closed military zone in a section of the occupied Palestinian territory.

"The Secretary-General is concerned by the announcement earlier today by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) that is has established a closed military zone in the northern part of the occupied Palestinian territory," Mr. Annan's spokesman said in a statement. He added that the creation of such a zone "will impose additional restrictions on the Palestinians' movement."

"It is a unilateral and provocative act, contrary to the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and it can only undermine ongoing efforts to find a way out of the present crisis," spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.

The spokesman acknowledged Israel's legitimate security concerns, but emphasized that they "can in the end only be satisfied through a decisive effort to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338." Those resolutions, adopted respectively in 1967 and 1973, embody the principle of 'land for peace.'

An early and productive meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and President Yasser Arafat would be an important step towards achieving a settlement, the spokesman added.