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International community action needed on the Middle East.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

02-078

MEDIA RELEASE

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ACTION NEEDED ON THE MIDDLE EAST

The time has come for the international community to take a more proactive approach to the development of a comprehensive approach to a lasting peace and security settlement in the Middle East.

In this context, recent efforts by the United States to defuse the conflict in the Middle East and to convene a ministerial level conference involving Israel, the Arab states, Europe, Russia and the United Nations are to be welcomed.

The path towards peace in the Middle East remains a difficult and complex one. In developing a comprehensive solution, it appears it is time to look beyond the incrementalist approach based on confidence and security building measures which followed the Oslo peace conference, as this no longer appears functional.

It is regrettable that violence continues across the Middle East. Labor condemns the recent suicide bombings in Israel in which 16 people were killed. Such action against innocent civilians is deplorable.

Labor welcomes the recent statement by Chairman Yasir Arafat to the Palestinian people condemning this incident . This represents a positive step. More action, however, is needed to ensure that such acts of violence do not continue.

It is also important that Israel complies with earlier US demands that its occupation of the Palestinian settlements on the West Bank cease and that Israeli forces withdraw. Labor welcomes the Israeli Government’s decision to postpone military operations in Gaza.

It is disappointing that the UN fact-finding mission into events in the Jenin refugee camp did not go ahead.

Violence against unarmed civilians, wherever it occurs, must be condemned.

Ends 13 May 2002

For further information contact: Kevin Rudd, MP on (07) 3899 4031 or 0418 796 931 or Nore Hoogstad (Advisor) on 0417 605 823