Following latest Middle East clashes Annan urges end to violence and retaliation

“The Secretary-General remains gravely concerned at the continued violence in the Middle East, including most recently yesterday the shooting of a Palestinian woman in Hebron by Israeli settlers and Friday’s attack near the town of Hebron in which four Israelis were killed,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement. The Secretary-General reiterated his condemnation of all attacks against civilians, according to the statement.Urging all concerned to end the cycle of violence and retaliation, Mr. Annan called on the parties “to return to the path of negotiations for a permanent settlement,” the spokesman said.The Secretary-General, asked this afternoon by reporters about UN action on the Palestinian issue, said the world body had been “quite engaged” in addressing the crisis, which was marked by civilian deaths on both sides. “We need to work very hard to end that tragedy,” he added.At the same time, Mr. Annan called attention to the emergence of a common aspiration for settling the issue. “Today we all share a vision of two States living side by side and in security,” he said. “What we need is the operational pathway to get us there.”Members of the diplomatic Quartet – the UN, United States, Russian Federation and European Union – were working to ensure that “in three years’ time, that dream will be a reality,” he added.Meanwhile, the President of the Security Council said talks were continuing in that body on a draft resolution put forward by the Arab Group last Friday. “That draft did not make any further progress this morning,” Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom told reporters following a closed-door meeting, noting that there would be “further corridor consultations” on the text.“If necessary we will take it up tomorrow afternoon in informal consultations,” he added. read more