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Security Council Debates Cease-Fire, Israeli Withdrawal - 2002-04-03


The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations wants the Security Council to adopt a new resolution pressing Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank. The Israeli ambassador urged the council to demand an end to suicide bombings in Israel.

Palestinian representative Nasser Al-Kidwa criticized Israel for continuing to "tighten its grip" on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He urged the Security Council to re-affirm recently adopted resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw its troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah.

Israel launched the military offensive into Palestinian-controlled areas and surrounded Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah last week, in response to a series of deadly suicide bombings in Israel. Israeli officials have indicated that a ceasefire must precede any withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Lancry told the council, "No state would tolerate continued daily assaults and suicidal terrorism on the streets of its cities." Even so, he said, Israel's hand is "extended in peace." He said if there were a cease-fire, the two sides could begin working on U.S.-proposed peace initiatives.

"If you do not believe this, I invite the Palestinians, with the Security Council as witness, to put us to the test. Let us call for an immediate cease-fire, and begin implementing the Tenet and Mitchell [plans]. Let us discover what is behind Prime Minster Sharon's proposals as to 'painful compromises.' Put us to the test of peace. It is that simple. Don't look for any ambiguous political horizon," he said.

Wednesday's Security Council meeting was the fourth session in six days dealing with the crisis in the Middle East.

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