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UN Urges Israel To Cease Extrajudicial Killings


Annan Appeals To Israelis And Palestinians To Fulfil Road Map Obligations

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to the Israelis and the Palestinians to fulfill their obligations under international law and the Road Map, a widely endorsed outline plan for peace in the Middle East.

"Israel should cease its practice of extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, and other practices which violate its obligations as an occupying power to protect the civilian population," he said in a message to a UN conference in South Africa on the rights of the Palestinian people.

At the same time, "the Palestinian Authority should take decisive action to halt all acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. It should also take steps to reform Palestinian security forces and empower the position of Prime Minister," he added in a statement that was read out by Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The two-day conference, which opened Tuesday in Cape Town, was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The Secretary-General also expressed concern over the construction of the barrier in the West Bank, noting that the project, which ran contrary to the spirit of the Road Map, had resulted in the confiscation of Palestinian land and restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and goods, thus threatening the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian State.

The Road Map is sponsored by the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States, and calls for Israel and the Palestinians to take a series of parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two States living side-by-side in peace by 2005.

Mr. Annan said the declared intention of the Israeli Government to withdraw from all Gaza settlements and parts of the West Bank could provide a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East.

During the ensuing discussion, Mr. Hansen said more and more donors questioned the feasibility of continuing assistance to the occupied territory and considered the situation to be a lost cause. The humanitarian community could not keep pace with Israeli destruction, he added, appealing to all to press doors to maintain their contributions.

For his part, John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, drew an analogy with apartheid. He said the pass laws which had determined the right of Africans to move and reside in so-called white areas were prototypes of the special permits required by Palestinians to live in their own homes in the "seam zone," to reach their farm land, and to visit family living elsewhere.

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