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U.N. Security Council Passes Middle East Resolution

It is the first time the Security Council has explicitly endorsed coexisting Palestinian and Israeli states. The resolution passed by a vote of 14 to 0, with Syria abstaining.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution marked a shift in U.S. policy, ending years of Security Council reluctance to intervene in the region.

John D. Negroponte, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., explained the shift in policy. “Our intent in doing this was to give an impulse to peace efforts and to decry the violence and terror.”

Both Israel and Palestine saw the resolution as a positive step in peace negotiations.

“This is a helpful resolution,” Palestine’s U.N. Representative Nasser Kidwa said. “It is the first time that the Security Council spells out the vision of two states.”

Israel’s Representative Yehuda Lancry called it a “balanced” resolution. Israel has long opposed Security Council involvement in resolving the dispute.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he hoped Security Council backing for a Palestinian state would encourage a cease-fire in the Middle East. He also announced plans to press Arab states to do more to resolve the conflict.

Continuing Cycle of Violence

As U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni prepares to return to the region in a third bid for a cease-fire, Israeli tanks and troops continue to tighten their grip on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters.

Defying international concern, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon ordered his army to proceed with the biggest offensive against the Palestinians in decades.

Israeli soldiers searched Palestinian homes in the West Bank for militants responsible for recent attacks on Israeli citizens. An officer in Arafat’s guard, an Israeli lieutenant and an Italian war photographer were reported dead.

In Washington, President Bush criticized Sharon’s uncompromising stance, saying,

“Frankly, it’s not helpful what the Israelis have recently done, in order to create conditions for peace.”

President Bush also stated the main goal for U.S. involvement in the peace process is to save lives. This most recent cycle of violence has killed at least 1,057 Palestinians and 341 Israelis since September 2000.

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