(CNSNews.com) - Thursday's speech by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, urging a "concerted" effort to create "a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful settlement" in the Mideast, came just ten days after a U.N. panel slammed Israel as the catalyst for the violence.
Annan said Thursday it is "imperative for the [U.N.] Security Council and the wider international community" to work on an Israeli/Palestinian peace agreement.
But at a Feb. 12 meeting of the U.N.'s Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, its chairman, Papa Louis Fall of Senegal, declared that "the committee was more determined than ever to fulfill its mandate to give back to the Palestinian people all of their inalienable rights."
Committee member Martin Andjaba of Namibia added that "the Palestinian people, particularly the women and children, continued to suffer due to Israeli occupation."
"The illegal blockades of towns and cities by the occupying power (Israel) could not be allowed to continue. Also, the continuing humiliation of Chairman Yasser Arafat, placed under house arrest, was unacceptable," Andjaba said.
Fall also commended Arafat for his "courage and wisdom during tribulation and attempts to marginalize him."
The Palestinian representative on the committee laid the blame for the continued violence squarely on Israel.
"For over 16 months now, the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation [have] suffered countless violations of their human rights, war crimes and state terrorism at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces," said Nasser Al-Kidwa, who has permanent observer status on the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Israel has no representation.
"[Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon's government had no intention of observing any kind of ceasefire or calming the volatile situation on the ground and preventing its further deterioration," Al Kidwa stated. "On the contrary, the policies and actions of the Israeli government definitely sought to incite and escalate the violence and intensify the crisis."
The Bush administration, which has condemned the Palestinian attacks targeting Israeli citizens, also was criticized by Al Kidwa, for allowing "Sharon and his government to escape the peace process, to thwart the existing agreements, to put aside and refuse implementation of the Mitchell recommendations, and to wage an all-out attack against the Palestinian Authority and its leaders."
The U.N. committee and the Palestinian Authority claim Israel is violating the guidelines for peace listed in separate fact-finding reports named for former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and current CIA Director George Tenet.
But Herbert Zweibon, chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel, insists it is the Palestinians who are ignoring a key provision of both reports.
"(The Mitchell and Tenet) reports call for seven days of quiet by the Palestinians. There has not been 72 hours of quiet," says Zweibon. "This is an ongoing problem. The world ignores the murders and mayhem inflicted on women and children on a daily basis by suicide bombers and ambush attacks against civilians perpetrated by the Palestinians," he added.
The Mitchell and Tenet reports outlined steps to be taken by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to halt the violence and renew peace negotiations. Each report called for a "cooling off" period without violence or reprisals.
But Zweibon believes the goal of any future negotiations should change.
"What the U.N. and Europe want doesn't matter. The question of peace is not a suitable goal," said Zweibon. "If that were the case, Arafat would not have turned down the Barak offer."
A year ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians all of the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem for the creation of a Palestinian state but Arafat refused the offer, demanding more land in East Jerusalem and the right of return of land and property for Palestinian refugees inside Israel.
Sharon has said if placed in the same situation, he would offer the Palestinians far less than Barak did.
According to Zweibon, "Security and stability is the goal. Peace may not be a possibility."
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