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Israelis, Palestinians need courage to stick to Road Map peace plan - UN official

Israelis, Palestinians need courage to stick to Road Map peace plan - UN official

ASG Danilo Türk
Describing the situation in the Middle East as "fragile," a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today that both Israelis and Palestinians needed "courage and determination to stay the course" and must not allow themselves to fall back into the senseless cycle of violence and revenge.

"We must do all in our power to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to take risks for peace, and even consider new initiatives to energize the process," Danilo Türk, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the 15-nation body this morning in an open briefing on developments in the Middle East over the past month.

He said the recent violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border, as well as the "disturbing increase" in violence just this month - with suicide bombing attacks that had left two Israeli civilians dead and dozens injured and retaliation by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) resulting in Palestinian casualties - attested to the fact that even during periods of relative calm, the situation in the Middle East remained "fragile."

"The terrible cycle of violence and revenge must not be allowed to again gather momentum," Mr. Türk said, urging both parties to exercise maximum restraint and resist the urge to respond to provocation. While the Palestinian Authority must continue its reform process and do all in its power to apprehend the instigators of attacks against civilians, the Israeli side must be equally committed to addressing some key challenges to long-term peace in the region, namely the building of the separation wall, the continued presence of settlement outposts and the restrictions on access and freedom of movement.

"In the interest of attaining peace and security for both peoples, the parties must continue to implement the steps called for in the Road Map, said Mr. Türk, referring to the peace plan sponsored by the so-called diplomatic Quartet of the UN, United States, European Union and Russian Federation that calls for Israel and the Palestinians to take a series of parallel and reciprocal steps and culminating in the achievement of two states living side by side in peace by 2005.

But Mr. Türk stressed that there are no "miracle fixes or easy shortcuts" for the strategic actions that both parties must take to ensure the realization of the Road Map's ultimate goals: an end to terrorism and violence; an end to occupation; and a resolution to the conflict leading to two States, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security. "The international community should be actively supportive and work with the parties to seek ways to maintain momentum in that difficult process," he added.