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MIDDLE EAST: SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR CEASEFIRE AND ISRAELI TROOP PULL-OUT
New York, Apr 8 2002 11:00AM
Responding to the continued violence in the Middle East, members of the
Security Council have repeated their call for a ceasefire and the immediate
withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities.
"The members of the Security Council are seriously concerned at the further deterioration of the situation and violation of international humanitarian law on the Palestinian Territories, including many victims among the civilian population and a threat of destruction of the Palestinian Authority," said Council President Sergey Lavrov in a statement to the press issued on Sunday following a closed-door meeting.
The President said that the session, convened at the request of the Arab Group, marked the determination of Council members "to ensure the implementation of resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403" -- the security body's most recent texts on the situation in the Middle East. He emphasized that the members were "deeply disturbed by the failure to implement" those resolutions, adding, "The continuation of violence by the power in control of events on the ground is unacceptable."
Insisting that the parties fully implement those texts, the statement stressed in particular that "there must be a cease-fire and Israel must withdraw its forces from Palestinian cities without delay."
The parties were also called on to cooperate in good faith with the Quartet -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation -- "and with the Secretary-General, especially in the context of the forthcoming visit of the US Secretary of State to the region," the President said.
Asking the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed on the ongoing efforts to ensure the implementation of its resolutions, the statement said the members "will closely follow the developments as they consider further steps to contribute to the efforts to bring peace to the Middle East."
With regard to the situation along the withdrawal line between Israel and Lebanon, Council members "expressed concern at the violation of the Blue Line and reiterated their call on the parties to implement resolutions 425 and 426." 2002-04-07 00:00:00.000
ANNAN URGES ISRAEL TO WITHDRAW, BACKS POWELL'S MISSION 'ALL THE WAY' New York, Apr 8 2002 3:00PM
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today voiced concern over the unfolding tragedy in the Middle East and appealed to Israel's leadership to withdraw from Palestinian areas.
"The whole world is demanding that Israel withdraws - I don't think the whole world, including the friends of the Israeli people and Government, can be wrong," Mr. Annan told reporters in Madrid, where today he opened the UN Second World Assembly on Ageing.
"So I appeal to Prime Minister Sharon to heed the call, and move ahead with the implementation of the resolution," he stressed, referring to Security Council resolution 1402. "Of course the resolution also makes demands on the Palestinian leadership and I urge them also to honour that," he added.
"I think what is happening in the region, both Israel and Palestine, is a very painful thing for all of us to see the human tragedy and I also regret to say that the longer this goes on, the more it erodes the moral and political position of Israel in the world and I hope that Prime Minister Sharon would bear that in mind as well," the Secretary-General said.
Describing the tragic humanitarian situation, Mr. Annan said, "it is really very, very serious when you consider that a large number of people are without water, they are short of food and medication, and the humanitarian workers, from Red Cross to Red Crescent to UNWRA [UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], do not have a freedom of movement."
The Secretary-General voiced full backing for the forthcoming visit to the Middle East by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. "We are solidly with him and I hope he will have a successful mission," said the Secretary-General, warning, "It's not going to be easy."
"He doesn't have a magic wand, so we should not expect miracles," Mr. Annan stressed. "It's a tough mission but we will be with him all the way." 2002-04-08 00:00:00.000
END 'BLOODY ASSAULT' ON PALESTINIAN CAMPS, TOP UN AID OFFICIAL TELLS ISRAEL New York, Apr 8 2002 4:00PM
Reacting to reports of death and destruction in the Middle East, the head of the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees in the region has issued a strong call for the Israeli military to cease its "bloody assault" on camps in the West Bank.
"The Israeli Defence Force has made a hellish battleground among the civilians in the Balata and Jenin refugee camps, " <"http://www.un.org/unrwa/news/releases/2002/hqg-1302.pdf"> said Peter Hansen, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (<"http://www.un.org/unrwa/news/index.html"> UNRWA), in a statement issued in Gaza on Sunday. "We are getting reports of pure horror - that helicopters are strafing civilian residential areas; that systematic shelling by tanks has created hundreds of wounded; that bulldozers are razing refugee homes to the ground and that food and medicine will soon run out."
"In the name of human decency the Israeli military must allow our ambulances safe passage to help evacuate the wounded and deliver emergency supplies of medicines and food," Mr. Hansen stressed.
The UNRWA chief noted that Israel was a signatory to international conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict. "Those conventions are worthless if they are not adhered to precisely at times of the greatest blood-letting," said Mr. Hansen. "The world is watching and Israel needs to end this pitiless assault on civilian refugee camps."
The Director of UNRWA's operations in the West Bank, Richard Cook, warned that "a humanitarian disaster is in the making" there. "There has been an alarming loss of life. UNRWA must have, without delay, safe access to the camps to carry out its humanitarian mission," he said.
Bodies are piling up in the corridors of Jenin hospital, where 30 people are reported to have died in the last 36 hours, according to UNRWA, which said the operating theatre there had run out of oxygen and medicines had been nearly depleted.
The Agency said its ambulances and food trucks, which have been repeatedly refused access to the West Bank camps over the past three days, were ready to move immediately the moment that Israel guaranteed that they would not come under fire from its troops. 2002-04-08 00:00:00.000
SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL URGE END TO ISRAELI ATTACKS IN PALESTINIAN CITIES New York, Apr 8 2002 7:00PM
After meeting twice behind closed doors to discuss the Middle East crisis, the United Nations Security Council today held an open debate as speaker after speaker demanded the implementation of the Council's resolution 1402 and called on Israel to halt its attacks on Palestinian areas and withdraw its forces.
Speaking at the outset of the debate that was expected to involve representatives of some 40 countries, Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer for Palestine, said at least 250 Palestinian civilians had been killed in recent days. "Water and power were cut off from vast areas, the infrastructure was destroyed, homes were stormed into, mass detentions took place, buildings, cars and properties were totally destroyed." He called for those responsible to be brought to justice. "There is no doubt that a serious stand by the international community against these crimes will assist in putting an end to such crimes and make sure that they will not be repeated," he said.
Ambassador Al-Kidwa said that Israel had chosen to ignore Security Council resolutions as well as United States President George Bush's request last Thursday for a cessation of military operations and Israeli withdrawal without delay. He added that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat would cooperate with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and others. "Our people will not give up their right to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine," he said. "But the first necessary step now is the immediate, unconditional implementation of resolution 1402."
For his part, the representative of Israel, Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, stressed that the steps laid out in resolution 1402 must be carried out simultaneously. "Israeli withdrawal, if it is not preceded by a meaningful Palestinian ceasefire, must at the very least be accompanied by one," he said. "For its part, Israel believes that with the direct involvement of Secretary Powell, the package of steps envisaged in resolution 1402, including Israel's withdrawal, can be fully implemented," he said, adding that the Palestinian side seemed to have no intention of "even declaring a ceasefire, much less implementing a meaningful one."
He said Israeli military operations, which were being conducted in a way that minimized, to the degree possible, harm to Palestinian civilians, were legally and morally necessary. "The majority of those killed have been Palestinian fighters who either fired on Israeli troops or were engaged in terrorist activities," he said. He also voiced concern over cross-border violations by the Hizbollah on Israel's northern border. He called on the Council to act immediately to end support for Hizbollah and prevent a widening of the current conflict in the Middle East.
Today's meeting was convened at the request of the Permanent Representative of Tunisia, current Chairman of the Arab Group, who called on the Council to consider "the continued escalation of the Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, in total disregard of the resolutions of the Security Council." 2002-04-08 00:00:00.000
ISRAELI FORCES BLOCK UN RELIEF CONVOY HEADED FOR JENIN REFUGEE CAMP New York, Apr 9 2002 1:00PM Israeli forces today blocked the United Nations from delivering aid to the Jenin refugee camp, according to a spokesman for the world body.
"A convoy from the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East -- known as UNRWA -- accompanied by the Agencyユs Deputy Commissioner-General and the West Bank Field Office Director was prevented this morning by Israeli forces from entering Jenin refugee camp,モ spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York. He added that the Agency had been able to enter the City of Jenin, delivering 2,000 food parcels, along with blankets and blood supplies, to Jenin Hospital.
"UNRWA officials tells us they will try again tomorrow to enter the refugee camp," the spokesman said, adding that the Agency's ambulances "remain ready to enter the camp as soon as permitted to do so by Israeli forces."
At the same time, Agency officials continued assisting some 300 women, children and elderly persons who had been forced out of the Jenin camp last night and into Jenin City, many taking refuge in a Red Cross compound.
Meanwhile, in Ramallah, Israeli soldiers entered an UNRWA run-school known as the Menユs Training College, where several hundred boarding students are trapped by the fighting. "UNRWA officials have gone to the school to assess the situation," Mr. Eckhard said. 2002-04-09 00:00:00.000
UN HUMAN RIGHTS MISSION CONTACTS ISRAEL SEEKING COOPERATION FOR VISIT New York, Apr 9 2002 2:00PM
A high-level United Nations delegation of human rights experts set to visit the Middle East, sought today the cooperation of the Israeli Government, which said it would study the request.
The three members of the mission - to be led by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson - received a communication from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in Geneva that their request for the country's cooperation had been forwarded to its Government and would be given careful consideration in light of the unfolding situation and bearing in mind other important impending visits.
The team, which also includes former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and former African National Congress Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa, issued a joint communique in Geneva today stressing that their mission "should be seen in tandem with the peacemaking efforts currently underway, notably the mission being undertaken by US Secretary of State Colin Powell."
The three also voiced hope "that a cessation of hostilities and movement on the Tenet and Mitchell plans will go hand-in-hand with measures to protect human rights - in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as in Israel."
In their letter to the Israeli Government, the team had expressed confidence "that the Israeli authorities would share our hope that whatever can be done to protect human life and safety should be done as a matter of utmost urgency." 2002-04-09 00:00:00.000
ANNAN, POWELL AND OTHER MIDDLE EAST 'QUARTET' OFFICIALS TO MEET WEDNESDAY New York, Apr 9 2002 4:00PM
Responding to the ongoing violence in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to meet on Wednesday with senior officials from the three other components of the diplomatic 'quartet' - the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation - according to a UN spokesman.
Mr. Annan, who is in Madrid today, prepared for tomorrow's meeting by conferring with his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.
The meeting, to be held in the Spanish capital, will include the participation of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique representing the rotating Presidency of the European Union, European Security Chief Javier Solana, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Participants are expected to issue a joint declaration following their meeting.
The quartet has met only once previously at this level, during the General Assembly session last Fall in New York. "The principals have remained in touch mainly by phone since, and they have been coordinating regularly on the ground," Mr. Eckhard said. 2002-04-09 00:00:00.000
WRAPPING UP MIDDLE EAST DEBATE, SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS RESOLUTION New York, Apr 9 2002 5:00PM Wrapping up a two-day open <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/SC7359.doc.htm">debate on the situation in the Middle East, the United Nations Security Council today began informal consultations on a draft resolution sponsored by Syria.
The proposed text condemns the failure to implement Council resolutions 1402 and 1403 and, among other points, calls on Israel to effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to a UN spokesman.
Before moving into closed-door talks on the draft, the Council heard from the remaining nations taking part in the debate, which saw the participation of over 40 representatives since it began yesterday afternoon.
Spain's representative, Juan Luis Flores, speaking today for the European Union and associated States, said resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403 must be implemented immediately. He voiced deep regret over the fact that the resolutions continued to be ignored, particularly their demands for an immediate cessation of violence, a meaningful and effective ceasefire, and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops.
Virtually all participants expressed serious concern at the deadly violence in the Middle East and called for immediate implementation of the Council's recent resolutions on the region. A number of speakers said the Council's credibility was at stake and called on the 15-member body to take strong action, including the possible dispatch of an international monitoring force to the region. 2002-04-09 00:00:00.000
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