In Jerusalem Friday, U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni said he will not allow the recent upsurge of Israeli-Palestinian violence to derail his diplomatic efforts to bring about a cease-fire. Mr. Zinni was speaking one day after a spate of new killings, including a Palestinian suicide bombing in which three Israelis died.
Mr. Zinni, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, says he is determined to press on with his task of ensuring a truce takes hold to end 14 months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting that has cost nearly 1,000 lives. He says he will stay in the region "as long as it takes to make that happen."
"I am committed to this. I will do everything I can. The first issue, the first thing we must deal with is the cease-fire, and stopping the violence. That is the first criteria, and that is what I am committed to work to. I am not committed to work for words. I am committed to work for actions on the ground. And, I will need the help of all sides. And, I will do whatever I can to make sure that that happens," he said.
The comment marked the first time that Mr. Zinni, who has held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week, said he had an open-ended time frame to mediate a cease-fire.
Following a meeting Friday with Israeli President Moshe Katsav in Jerusalem, Mr. Zinni denounced the latest round of killings. More than a dozen Palestinians and Israelis have been killed since he and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns began their mission to the Mideast on Monday.
But Mr. Zinni stressed the violence would not break his commitment to getting both sides to agree to a truce. "I strongly condemn this violence. The groups that do this are clearly trying to make my mission fail - this mission to try to end the violence, to get back on the path to peace - to not succeed. I am determined not to let that happen," he said.
Mr. Zinni faces a daunting task in attempting to reach his goal. In some of the latest incidents of violence, on Thursday in northern Israel, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and three Israelis. Earlier on Thursday, an Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinian gunmen and two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops at a West Bank checkpoint.
The Israeli army says that the soldiers fired on a Palestinian car when it tried to run over them. Palestinians claim the car was driving away when the soldiers opened fire.