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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
Mid-East 'drifting towards chaos'
A father and son sit near the remains of their home in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip
No peace without international involvement, Mr Prendergast said
A senior UN official has warned that no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be found without international involvement.

In a briefing to the Security Council, Kieran Prendergast spoke of "a palpable sense of drift and foreboding... towards chaos".

He urged both sides to abandon violence and engage in negotiation.

And he warned that there would be no peaceful agreement if both sides were left to themselves.

Since the start of the latest intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, some 3,839 Palestinians and 979 Israelis had been killed, said Mr Prendergast, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

Map showing location of Gaza City

And an estimated 36,000 Palestinians and 6,297 Israelis had been wounded.

These "staggering" figures, he said, demanded action.

"Are we going to go on like this? Is there not a better way?" he asked.

Neither side, he said, was fulfilling its obligations under the international peace plan known as the road map.

"Even to speak in terms of a peace process seems to put one at a distance from the present reality," he said.

Violence in and around the Gaza Strip has escalated sharply during the past month after Israel launched a major operation in response to a rocket attack from Gaza which killed two Israeli children.

Mr Prendergast said the Palestinian Authority had to make all efforts to stop such attacks against Israeli citizens.

He also called on the Israelis to refrain from the disproportionate use of force.


During the two week long military operation, he said, 114 Palestinians were killed in northern Gaza, many of them civilians, including children.

Soldier carry the coffin of Israeli soldier Moshe Almaliach, Israel
The conflict is costing lives on both sides

Israel's restrictions on movement in the occupied territories, he said, has affected the United Nations' humanitarian agency for the Palestinians, known as UNWRA.

The agency said in a report released on Friday that Israel's 17-day offensive in the northern Gaza strip had left 700 homeless and caused more than $3m in property damage.

Israel says it destroys buildings which hide tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

Mr Prendergast said that pessimism about peace prospects was coupled with frustration, because the two state solution enjoyed strong support among both the Israeli and the Palestinian public.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy





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