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U.N. Envoy Calls on Israel to Abandon Settlements (REUTERS) UNITED NATIONS 09/15/03 12:19 PM ET) Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3446384
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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The top U.N. envoy for the Middle East warned on Monday that more bloodshed was inevitable unless the international road map for peace between Israel and the Palestinians was pushed forward more quickly.
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The best way to make progress was for Israel to abandon its settlements on Palestinian lands, said Terje Roed-Larsen, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, stating this would win the Palestinian Authority the popular support it needs to effectively counter the terrorist groups targeting Israel.
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"The two key issues in the peace process are terrorism and occupation," Roed-Larsen told a U.N. Security Council meeting.
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"Without popular support, no Palestinian prime minister can at this stage counter terrorism and terror organizations in an effective manner," he said. "This essential public support could best be achieved, under the current circumstances, through abandonment of settlements."
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He faulted Israel for its fresh round of targeted killings of Palestinian militants, often carried out with "disproportionate force in densely populated civilian areas" in violation of international humanitarian law.
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And he criticized the Palestinians for failing to carry out security reforms, including a consolidation of their security forces, during the recent cease-fire.
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While the Palestinians seek assurances the peace process will lead to a viable Palestinian state, Israel´s settlement activity and its construction of a West Bank security wall "cause Palestinians to wonder whether we are moving in the opposite direction to that goal," Roed-Larsen said.
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The U.N. envoy also criticized a decision in principle by Israel´s Security Cabinet to "remove" Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, calling Arafat "the legitimate leader of the Palestinians."
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"He embodies Palestinian identity and national aspirations. He is now far from irrelevant," Roed-Larsen said. (© Reuters 2003 09/15/03)
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