WORLD / Middle East

Palestine: UN Council must stop Israel
Updated: 2006-07-04 09:17

The U.N. Security Council must compel Israel to stop its offensive in the Gaza Strip or the entire Middle East could plunge into violence, the Palestinian U.N. observer said on Monday.

The Security Council "cannot abandon its responsibilities in the face of this rising threat to the already too fragile, tense and unstable security situation in the Middle East," Ambassador Riyad Mansour said in a letter to France, which holds the council presidency for July.

Mansour's letter arrived as Arab and Islamic countries at the United Nations reviewed a possible resolution or statement they would like the council to adopt as early as Wednesday. The world body is closed on Tuesday, for U.S. Independence Day.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is against another council meeting, saying the body had debated the crisis on Friday "and and as of now, we don't see a point in meeting further."

But any Security Council member, such as Qatar, the only Arab member of the council, can call for a session and introduce a resolution or statement.

Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier last week and threatened to kill him on Tuesday unless 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began to be released from Israeli prisons.

In response, Israel, which pulled out of Gaza last year, sent troops and tanks back into Gaza, firing artillery and carrying out nighttime air raids.

They knocked out a power plant, halted most imports and in the West Bank kidnapped Hamas ministers and members of the elected Palestinian Legislative Council

Mansour wrote that "serious efforts should be undertaken to compel the occupying power to immediately cease its aggression."

He called the situation "critical" and said Israeli actions "should be strongly condemned" and that Israel had to "abide by all of its obligations under international law."

For a start, Israel should stop military attacks against civilians, and release all Palestinian officials it has detained "to give diplomacy a chance to defuse the current crisis," Mansour said in his letter addressed to France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere.

But he did not mention the capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit, a 19-year old tank gunner.