14 January 2003

Secretary-General Voices Extreme Concern at Level of Violence, Growing Casualties in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

NEW YORK, 13 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is extremely concerned by the level of violence and growing number of casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He deplores that during the last weekend at least nine Palestinians and two Israelis were killed in various incidents.

The Secretary-General believes that the most recent upsurge in violence and retaliation only feeds the cycle of mutual anger and hatred that leads to further civilian victims on both sides. He calls on all Palestinians to stop attacks on Israelis and to pursue non-violent policies. Equally, the Secretary-General urges the Government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint, in particular refraining from the disproportionate use of force and such actions as extrajudicial killings and demolition of houses. All parties must understand that there is no military solution to this conflict and that there is no alternative to a political settlement.

The Secretary-General remains convinced that the only way forward towards reviving a sustainable peace process is a firm commitment of the parties to end all violence and to work closely with the Quartet on the basis of its road map to a two-State solution. In this connection, he welcomes the initiative of Prime Minister Blair to convene a meeting tomorrow on the important issue of Palestinian reform. The Secretary-General very much regrets that senior Palestinian officials were not allowed to travel to London for this meeting.

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