The latest Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel have underscored the extreme difficulties in getting the two sides to move forward with an international road map for peace. At the United Nations Monday, the U.N. special representative to the Middle East took both sides to task for their actions, and said continued intransigence would further undermine the peace process.
In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council, U.N. Special Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said the terrorism will not stop, until the Israelis and the Palestinians take "reciprocal steps" toward ending the violence, as outlined in the road map to peace.
Mr. Roed-Larsen said the Palestinian Authority had "tragically failed" on the question of security reform, and must bring those involved in the suicide attacks to justice. But he also criticized Israel for the continued "killings of Palestinian civilians and destruction of their property."
The road map, presented late last month by the so-called Quartet, the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, envisions a return to negotiations and the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.
In the interim, it calls on Palestinians to curb terrorism, and it calls on Israel to lift restrictions on Palestinians and withdraw from Palestinian territories occupied in September 2000, when the second Palestinian uprising began.
But Israel's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Areye Mekel, says the latest suicide attacks underscore Israel's reservations about the plan. He says Israel will not alter its military policy of targeting militants in the Palestinian territories, until the Palestinians crack down on extremists. "Our major reservation is that we refuse to be killed during the day and negotiate during the night, or the other way around. In other words, we would like the terror to be over," he said. "If the Palestinians want to move anywhere, they must put an end to these terrorist attacks. We will not live like that."
The Palestinian observer to the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa, told reporters that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, commonly known as Abu Mazen, cannot stop the attacks, until Israel first takes steps toward implementing the road map, such as ending settlement activity and abandoning military incursions in Palestinian areas.
"Prime Minister Abu Mazen is unable to take those steps, as long as the Israeli side rejects the road map, that is theoretically our common ground, both sides," he said. "Israel rejects that. Not only this, Israel continues with its military attacks."
In his report to the Security Council, U.N. Special Envoy Roed-Larsen described a serious humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. He says U.N. humanitarian workers have been unable to do their jobs because they have been barred from entering or leaving the Gaza Strip. Although some U.N. staff have now been told that they can leave, Mr. Roed-Larsen says, the policy violates the immunities of U.N. personnel and international law.