The Associated Press
March 25, 2008 - 5:47pm

The Palestinians and Israelis called Tuesday for stepped up international support to achieve peace, especially from the U.N. Security Council.

In separate speeches to the council, the Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour and Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman said their leaders' agreement last November to reach a peace settlement by the end of the year needs greater backing from the international community if it is to work.

Gillerman said suspending the ongoing talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would only play into the hands of extremists who want "to see our failure."

"Israel knows it cannot accomplish this alone," he said. "It needs the support of like-minded moderate leaders in the region that understand the threat posed by the extremists, not just to us but to them and to the world, and are willing to do what it takes."

Gillerman called on other nations to demonstrate collective support for the negotiations toward a lasting peace for the region. "This is the mandate of the international community. This is its calling. This is its duty," he emphasized. "This collective resolve must be shown first and foremost by this council."

The U.S.-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, last November drew 44 nations, including Israel's neighboring Arab states whose support is considered vital to any peace agreement. A joint understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians, in doubt until the last minute, was salvaged and Abbas and Olmert reiterated their desire to reach a peace settlement by the end of next year.

Mansour said a follow-up conference in Moscow, possibly in June, is needed to revive peace efforts.

Until then, he said, a "collective effort" is needed from the Security Council, from the so-called Quartet of nations trying to bring peace to the region — the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States — and from all those who attended last November's U.S.-hosted Annapolis Conference to revive the peace process.

"It's in a very critical situation," he said.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017