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UN Envoy Criticizes Israel, Arafat for Ignoring 'Road Map' - 2004-07-13

The U.N.'s leading Middle East envoy has criticized Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for not doing enough to stabilize law and order in the Palestinian territories. The U.N. envoy also criticized Israel for refusing to dismantle settlements, and said both sides are ignoring international calls to follow the so-called "road map" to peace.

The U.N.'s Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, said the security situation in Palestinian territory is worsening, making the prospect of peace in the region more difficult than ever.

"The Palestinian Authority, despite consistent promises by its leadership, has made no progress on its core obligation to take immediate action on the ground to end violence and combat terror and to reorganize and reform the Palestinian Authority," he said.

In his monthly briefing to the United Nations' Security Council, Mr. Larsen said Yasser Arafat has ignored calls from both Arab and Western countries to restructure the Palestinian Authority, and signaled growing international impatience with the Palestinian leader.

"All those who yearn for peace have already and repeatedly urged Mr. Arafat, in public and in private, to take immediate actions to restore this diminished credibility," he said.

The Palestinian U.N. Observer, Nasser Al Kidwa, denied allegations that the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse, and said the U.N. representative did not adequately address the challenges that Palestinians face.

"We have occupation. We have an occupying power that has been engaged in illegal activities, war crimes, on a daily basis against the Palestinian people and against the Palestinian Authority," he said. "And this basic idea, I think, is not reflected in an ample way by the briefing given by Mr. Larsen. It is strange for him to play the cheerleader, basically, of Mr. Sharon."

But Mr. Larsen also had harsh words for the Israeli government. He said Israel has made no move to dismantle settlements built since March, 2001, nor has it agreed to stop all settlement activities.

The U.N. envoy called on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to follow their responsibilities as outlined in the plan to create a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, known as the "road map" to peace.

Mr. Larsen did not mention the recent International Court of Justice, or ICJ, ruling that called on Israel to dismantle the controversial West Bank separation barrier. The court's decision is advisory in nature, and is not legally binding. U.S. Ambassador John Danforth criticized the court's opinion.

"The problem with the ICJ opinion is that it is one-sided," he said. "It doesn't really recognize the threat to the state of Israel or the right of self-defense by the state of Israel so it is not going to be acceptable. So it is not the basis for anything."

U.N. representatives will meet for an emergency session on Friday to further discuss the court's ruling on the separation wall.