Concerned at violence in Middle East, Annan stresses need for peaceful settlement
Reacting to the latest intensification of violence in the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed the need for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The Secretary-General is increasingly concerned about the ongoing vicious cycle of violence and retaliation in the Middle East," said his spokesman, Fred Eckhard, in a statement. "The Secretary-General urges both sides to live up to their commitments to implement the Mitchell Report and the Tenet Understandings, and to avoid any action that could make the search for a way out of the present crisis more difficult."
The Mitchell Report, which was produced last May by a fact-finding committee headed by former United States Senator George Mitchell, called for an end to the violence, the implementation of confidence building measures, and the resumption of negotiations. The "Tenet Understandings" refer to the ceasefire agreement brokered in June by United States Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.
In a related development, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, issued a statement in Geneva today condemning the terrorist attacks over the weekend on Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and Haifa, which have left 28 dead and 237 injured, including many young people. "These indiscriminate attacks on civilians violate the most basic human rights norms that affirm the right to life and the prohibition of extra-judicial killings," Mrs. Robinson said.
The High Commissioner urged the Palestinian Authority "to take immediate steps to investigate these heinous crimes and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice." Noting that such terrorist acts only fuelled hatred and polarization, she said they would not lead to a resolution of the conflict.
The High Commissioner also urged the Israeli authorities "to exercise utmost restraint in conformity with international law."