At the United Nations late Thursday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities and welcoming U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's mission to the region.
The resolution reaffirms two previously adopted resolutions calling for an immediate cease fire, the recognition of a Palestinian state and the withdrawal of Israeli forces. The new resolution, pushed by Syria and other Arab members, demands the provisions of the earlier resolutions be implemented without delay.
In a statement to the Security Council before the vote, Secretary General Kofi Annan rebuked both sides in the crisis. He said forcing Palestinian President Yasser Arafat into exile would be reckless. "He is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and his exile would only lead to even more violence and chaos," he said.
But Mr. Annan said both parties must accept blame for the current situation in the Middle East. "The Palestinian Authority seems to believe that failing to act against terrorism, and inducing turmoil chaos and instability, will cause the government and the people of Israel to buckle. They will not," he said.
The new resolution makes a point of endorsing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to the region next week as well as efforts by the European Union and Russia. Mr. Annan told the Council third party mediation is needed more than ever before.