Unabated Middle East violence heightens need for diplomatic solution, UN official says

Unabated Middle East violence heightens need for diplomatic solution, UN official says

USG Prendergast
Violence in the Middle East shows no sign of abating, heightening the need for a diplomatic solution to the region's problems, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

Reporting on recent developments, Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, recalled Sunday's deadly attack on a kibbutz in Israel, where five Israelis, including two children sleeping in their beds, were killed. "It bears repeating that terrorist attacks are politically damaging to the Palestinian cause as well as unacceptable," he said, calling for the Palestinian Authority to take all measures within its power to apprehend those responsible and to prevent further attacks.

"Equally," he said, "it bears repeating that the Government of Israel must fully respect international humanitarian law in confronting terrorism." Israel announced that its soldiers had killed a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in Jenin, and had demolished the homes of 10 alleged militants and their families, Mr. Prendergast noted, while the Islamic Jihad had pledged to inflict an "even more painful" strike against Israel.

"The self-perpetuating and ultimately futile, distressing pattern of violence thus shows no signs of abating," the Under-Secretary-General noted. He added that Israeli settlers continue to attack Palestinian olive pickers, while Israel's confiscation of land near the Green Line, reportedly affecting thousands of Palestinians, is also heightening tensions.

"The maintenance of the status quo - with its high levels of violence, increasing human suffering and loss of life and steady erosions of even a minimum of trust and respect - should not be an option as this can only lead to a further worsening of conditions," Mr. Prendergast warned.

He called for full support for diplomatic efforts by the Quartet - the United States, European Union, Russian Federation and UN - and others to simultaneously address the Middle East's political, security, humanitarian and reform issues.

"In order to succeed, however, we must pursue these efforts within a coherent framework to which the parties have agreed, and the parties need to stay the course and carry out longstanding commitments," he stressed. "For that reason, it is of critical importance that the Quartet finalize its road map [for peace] as soon as possible and then obtain the explicit agreement of both sides and the international community to follow that map to a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of this conflict."