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Middle East Violence Condemned

2 April 2002

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff has condemned the perpetrators of violence on both sides of the Middle East conflict.

He said the escalating cycle of death and violence over Easter would take neither side closer to achieving its objectives.

“We unequivocally condemn the suicide bombings which over the Easter period saw 35 Israelis die and over 200 wounded. Those responsible for sending young people to their deaths in this way and arbitrarily slaughtering civilians should be brought to justice.

“But equally we condemn the reported cold-blooded execution of five of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards by Israeli forces. There must be accountability for these actions and also for the policy of deliberate extra-judicial executions of Palestinian militants by Israel over the past 18 months.

“No solution can be found to the problems in the Middle East through reciprocal violence and terror.

“The test for leadership on either side is whether it has the strength and the courage to commit itself to return to negotiation to find a peaceful solution.

“On March 12, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1397 which proposed a two state solution. This is in line with New Zealand’s consistent support for Israel’s right to secure and agreed borders and for Palestinians to have a viable state in which they can achieve self-determination and social and economic progress.

“Both sides would need to compromise. Israel would have to dismantle illegal settlements on the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians would have to compromise on the right of return of refugees to Israel.

“Both the United States and Arab countries would have to promote the need for Israel and the Palestinians to be flexible in agreeing to such a settlement.

“In the event of such a settlement, as a long-standing contributor to peace-keeping forces in the Middle East, New Zealand could and would be prepared to play a role in building a peaceful solution,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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