Geneva Press Briefing
REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
The Middle East
The Security Council yesterday met to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The President of the Security Council issued a press statement in which he said that the Security Council members were deeply concerned by the escalation in violence in the occupied territories and deplored the loss of life on both sides. Members supported statements calling for immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Area A, and they fully supported the important diplomatic initiatives to de-escalate the situation on the ground. Members strongly supported all the elements contained in a statement also issued yesterday by representatives in the region of the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation, and the Special Coordinator of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen.
The Security Council debate came after the Secretary-General had on 24 October issued a statement in which he said that he was very disturbed to learn that, in spite of international calls on Israel to withdraw its armed forces from Palestinian controlled areas in the West Bank, Israel had instead intensified its occupation of those areas. The Secretary-General said he was especially concerned about reports from the village of Beit Rima, where Israeli forces have launched a major assault today resulting in substantial loss of life. The Secretary-General called on Israel to cease this attack immediately, withdraw all its forces from Area A and also ensure that Palestinian ambulances and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) personnel have full access to the wounded in the village. The Secretary-General reiterated that this further dangerous escalation, quite apart from being a breach of signed agreements, only deepened the cycle of violence in the region where tensions were already at boiling point. The Secretary-General once again said he remained convinced that there was no alternative to a negotiated political solution to this conflict. He strongly urged the parties to return to this path.