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Concern at Renewed Violence in Middle East

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

23 September 2002

Concern at Renewed Violence in Middle East

Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, today condemned the resumption of suicide bombings in Israel and Israel’s heavy handed response directed at Yasser Arafat.

“New Zealand utterly condemns the murder of seven innocent Israeli civilians by two suicide bombers.

The resumption of such bombings after six weeks without major incident is a blow to hopes that meaningful negotiations towards peace could resume.

“The Israeli response has been equally counterproductive.

The attack on Yasser Arafat’s compound smacks of a personal vendetta against the Palestinian Authority Chairman.

“Whatever his shortcomings, attacking Arafat and his infrastructure would appear only to achieve a further reduction in his authority over the extremist elements responsible for the bombings.

“The killing of four Palestinians protesting the Israeli attack on Mr Arafat’s Compound by Israeli troops simply adds to the mounting toll of Palestinian deaths, over 1555 in the last two years, along with the deaths of 599 Israelis.

“The impact of the violence has been to create a profound sense of insecurity among Israeli people and to create a humanitarian crisis amongst Palestinian people who have been deprived of the economic means to sustain themselves and of basic social services.

“Yet the possibility exists of achieving a desirable solution, spelled out by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in opening this year’s General Assembly.

“Annan spelt out a vision of an end to terror and an end to the occupation of Palestinian land, two states with agreed borders, co-existing side by side with a mutual commitment to peace and cooperation.

“With the assistance of the Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia) and the readiness of ‘Arab’ states to engage in the process, this vision could become a reality.

“The suicide bombings and the heavy-handed response of the Israeli Government regrettably takes us further away from achieving that outcome,” Mr Goff said.


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