Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

Prepared by Central NewsDH/2638
15 May 1998


*Secretary-General "deeply disturbed" over outbreak of violence in occupied territories.

*Meeting with Secretary-General, Israeli Prime Minister says his country will withdraw from Lebanon.

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"The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed over the outbreak of violence in the occupied territories leading to numerous deaths and injuries among the Palestinian population, including children," his Spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said on Friday.

"This tragic event underscores once more the importance of finding a way of moving the peace process forward without delay. In the meantime, it is essential for the parties to exercise maximum restraint," he added.

The Secretary-General also expressed his sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families.
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Israel's Prime Minister reaffirmed his country's decision to withdraw from southern Lebanon during a meeting on Friday in New York with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Secretary-General's Spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said Mr. Annan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had discussed the situation in the Middle East, focusing on southern Lebanon.

The Secretary-General had raised the issue of the Palestinians who were killed and wounded on Thursday. "The Prime Minister assured the Secretary-General that Israel was taking steps to calm the situation and avoid further violence," Mr. Eckhard said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the press that he had reaffirmed Israel's decision -- after 20 years -- to accept Security Council resolution 425 (1978), which calls on Israel to withdraw from Lebanese territory. "We also explained that we are prepared to do this under the stipulations that are contained in the resolution," Mr. Netanyahu said, adding, "Of course, if the UN wishes to take up this decision, then by all means, Israel would respond positively."

The Israeli Prime Minister prefaced his remarks by saying that he was very pleased to speak with Secretary-General, who he considered "a friend and a champion of peace."

Meanwhile, at a meeting in New York of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Palestine's Observer, Nassar Al-Kidwa, said Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to United Nations Headquarters was ill-timed. Mr. Al-Kidwa said he did not see what the Prime Minister could do in the house of international legitimacy and peace when he persistently violated the first and destroyed the second.

Mr. Al-Kidwa also told the Committee that on Thursday, as a million-person march was organized through all Palestinian cities, the occupying Israeli army had opened fire indiscriminately on the participants, killing eight people, two of whom were young children, and injuring 400 others. Several of those injured remained in critical condition, he said.


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