Today the U.N. Special Coordinator Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, warned that Israel's actions in Tulkarem constituted a dangerous escalation that would lead to more loss of life on both sides. He called for a rapid reversal of Israel's actions, and also for a lifting of the tight restrictions in Ramallah.
Mr. Larsen noted that in statements on 18 January, the UN Secretary-General and he condemned what they described as a murderous attack in Hadera by a Palestinian gunman, which claimed the lives of 6 Israeli civilians and wounded several others. He said that the Secretary-General has emphasized that the United Nations stands "four-square" against terrorism, no matter what purpose it is stated to achieve.
Mr. Larsen said that Israel had legitimate concerns about continuing attacks against Israeli civilians from Palestinian areas. However, he said the way to reduce violence was not through force, but through entry into the Mitchell process. He said that by repeatedly placing new conditions on entry into Mitchell, Israel had squandered an opportunity, during almost one month of relative calm, to move into the Mitchell recommendations. He stressed that the Mitchell recommendations contain explicit requirements - accepted by the PA - to act to prevent terrorism and punish those responsible, in addition to additional "cooling-off" measures, including an end to incitement, other PA actions to control violence, a settlement freeze, and an opening of the closures.
Mr. Larsen said that immediate entry into Mitchell was in the best interests of both parties. Mr. Larsen noted that entry into Mitchell would not constitute negotiating under fire as no negotiations were necessary: the requirements for both parties were clearly specified and could be implemented without political negotiations. Political negotiations would resume in the so-called 'confidence-building phase' of Mitchell.