Decrying civilian deaths in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Annan urges parties to talk

Secretary-General Kofi Annan addresses a press conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York. (UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Cautioning that the media’s focus on Lebanon should not detract attention from the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today spoke out against the killing of civilians on both sides, noting that Israeli attacks have caused hundreds of deaths, and called for the parties to resume dialogue.

“The Secretary-General is greatly concerned that the tragic events in Lebanon and northern Israel should not distract from the urgent need to work towards a solution to the current crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement.

“The continued killing and injuring of hundreds of civilians, including children, in Gaza, by Israeli forces is utterly unjustifiable,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He voiced particular concern about the arbitrary arrest of many senior Palestinians, including the speaker of the Palestinian Council, Aziz Dweik, saying this further undermines the Palestinian institutions which must be preserved if a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to be achieved.

The statement also reiterated the Secretary-General’s long-standing call for a cessation of the rocket attacks from Gaza, which he noted have indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians.

“He calls on the parties to resume dialogue without delay, and welcomes the continued efforts by the Government of Egypt to help bring this about,” Mr. Dujarric said.

“Above all he believes these tragic events in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel and Lebanon, show how urgent it is that a comprehensive peace process be revived as soon as possible.”

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