UN envoy condemns attack from Lebanese territory that killed Israeli soldier

The senior United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, today condemned an attack from Lebanese territory that killed an Israeli soldier across the southern withdrawal line last night and urged Beirut to control the use of force everywhere in its jurisdiction.

Mr. Roed-Larsen, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement issued in New York that the attack “constitutes a clear violation of the Blue Line and Security Council resolutions and could escalate tension between Israel and its northern neighbours.”

He called on all sides to use diplomacy and take no action that “could increase the already high level of tension in the region.”

In the meantime, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked Mr. Roed-Larsen to be active in his contacts with all parties, including regional governments, “at this difficult and dangerous juncture,” a UN spokesman said. “The Secretary-General is increasingly concerned at the risk of escalation.”

In Jerusalem, the Special Coordinator was to meet with the Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yoav Birar.

Meanwhile, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), responsible for confirming the Israeli withdrawal from its northern neighbour, is investigating the incident and it has increased its patrols along the Blue Line.