Middle East Quartet meets at UN headquarters in Jerusalem

Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told reporters in Jerusalem that the quartet had been “briefed on all aspects of the security, economic and political situation prior to the arrival of General [Anthony] Zinni and discussed relevant security and political issues.”Also today in Jerusalem, donors and UN agencies met to discuss the urgent need for aid to the Palestinian areas, Mr. Roed-Larsen said, calling attention to the prevailing humanitarian crisis. He said access to the victims of the conflict was being denied, UN property was being occupied and ambulances were being shot at. The Secretary-General had “taken the unusual step of sending a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, expressing his increasing distress at these developments.”Mr. Roed-Larsen also voiced concern over large-scale military attacks by Israel as well as Palestinian suicide attacks. “It is also unacceptable, and a tragedy, that journalists were injured and killed by IDF [Israeli Defence Force] bullets in Ramallah today,” he added, pointing out that IDF incursions in Palestinian refugee camps only galvanized support for terrorism.”Is there a military solution to this conflict?” he asked. “No, there is not. Can ever tougher security measures ever bring greater security? Quite the opposite. Can Israeli force generate a more moderate Palestinian leadership? No it cannot. Is there an alternative to negotiations? No there is not.”To be viable, any step forward must respond to “the legitimate desire of Palestinians for national independence, and to the equally legitimate claims of the Israelis to recognition and security,” he stressed.Meanwhile in Geneva, the Director-General of the UN World Health Organization voiced concern over the impact of the violence on health services. “I appeal to all sides in the conflict to accept the critical role of doctors, nurses and paramedical workers on duty, to respect their neutrality, equip them to save lives and relieve suffering, and allow them to do this vital work in safety,” Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland said in a statement.

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