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Desperate Need For Middle East Political Solution


'Desperate' Need For Political Solution To Middle East Conflict - UN Official

Events in the past month showed yet again how desperately the people of the Middle East need a political solution to their long conflict, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said in an open briefing that Israeli military operations in the occupied Palestinian territory could not provide the real security that would come only from a negotiated settlement. At the same time, he added, the Palestinian Authority must act on its obligations under the Road Map ( http://www.un.org/News/dh/mideast/roadmap122002.pdf.)

"Force will achieve neither a viable and independent Palestinian state nor a secure and recognized Israel," Mr. Prendergast said, emphasizing that there would be no peace unless the parties, the region and the wider international community were ready to play their parts.

On the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Mr. Prendergast stressed that the international community's involvement would be crucial to an effective hand-over - in terms of significant donor support for the Palestinians and as well as in the political and the security aspects.

He said the rocky road to peace would continue to be fraught with difficulties and a constant danger of breakdowns and setbacks. "To choose peace is to choose the difficult, the road less travelled, but the alternative is a continued long, slow, inevitable descent into a landscape full of violence, hatred and bloodshed," he said.

In other news, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Terje Roed-Larsen, met with Omar Suleiman, an envoy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, at the start of his mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Mr. Roed-Larsen and Mr. Suleiman discussed ways to enable Israelis and Palestinians to seize the current opportunity and turn the Israeli withdrawal initiative into a new beginning of the peace process.

Mr. Roed-Larsen will join envoys from the diplomatic Quartet - the United States, European Union and Russian Federation - for a meeting tomorrow in Taba, Egypt, to discuss their action plan and other steps to be taken in support of the Egyptian initiative.

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