Annan Seeks Multinational Force for Middle East

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 09:48:32 +0100

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on
the Security Council on Friday to consider an armed international force
for the Middle East, an idea long sought by Palestinians but strongly
opposed by Israel. 
Palestinian U.N. observer Nasser al-Kidwa quickly welcomed the
initiative, which would be aimed at ending the cycle of violence so
peace negotiations could take place in a calm atmosphere. 

But Israel and the United States, its closest ally, expressed doubts. 

"We believe that without the political will (on the part of
Palestinians) to renounce terror and violence, an international presence
would not bring about the result of quiet and calm in the area," said
Israeli envoy Aaron Jacob. 

"We just don't see how it can happen unless the two parties agree to
it," a U.S. official said. 

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed the
priority now should be to focus on the peace mission of Secretary of
State Colin Powell, which was reeling from a fresh suicide bombing in a
Jerusalem outdoor market. 

Annan condemned the suicide attack as "morally repugnant" and called on
both Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon to cooperate with Powell. 

The way out of the crisis was for both sides to move toward an immediate
cease-fire and then to negotiations "on a just, lasting and
comprehensive peace settlement," Annan said in a statement read by chief
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard. 


Annan, in Geneva to address the U.N. Human Rights Commission, asked
Kieran Prendergast, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political
affairs, to present his proposal to the 15-nation council in a
closed-door meeting. 

Prendergast said after his briefing that council envoys would now
discuss the plan with their capitals but wanted to hear the details from
Annan himself before reacting. 

Annan was due back at U.N. headquarters on Saturday. 

In Geneva, the U.N. leader said the situation was "so dangerous and the
humanitarian and human rights situation so appalling (that) the
proposition that a force should be sent in there ... can no longer be

"It is urgent, it is imperative," he said. "That capacity exists in the
world today. We must now muster the will." 

While it would be up to the Security Council to deploy a U.N.
peacekeeping force, organizing a multinational force would be up to
individual countries. These countries could then go to the Security
Council for a mandate if they chose to. 

In this case, Annan was calling for the council to endorse such a force
before any of its key members suggested it. 

Eckhard said Annan was calling for an international force rather than a
U.N. force because a U.N. mission would take too long to organize. 

"It's a reaction to the carnage that is taking place -- that we cannot
remain neutral as people are being killed on both sides from one day to
the next," Eckhard said. "Given the gravity of the situation, the
secretary-general is asking that we deal with this immediately and
effectively," he said. 

At least 1,264 Palestinians and 448 Israelis have been killed since the
Palestinian uprising began in September 2000. 

Source:  Reuters

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