Israel Objects to U.N. Official's Remarks

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel rejected United Nation's Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes' assessment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a "vicious cycle of violence."

Near the end of a five-day visit to the region, his first since assuming office in January 2007, Holmes met with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitch, who concluded that the UN official's remarks encourage terrorism.

"Such comments create an analogy between terrorists and those who are defending themselves from terror," Abramovitch said after their meeting.

Noting the Palestinians' "constant, indiscriminate firing of Kassam rockets and mortars at Sderot and communities in the western Negev, smuggling arms, ammunition and terrorists into the Gaza Strip, and the unceasing efforts by terrorist organizations to carry out attacks against Israel," Abramovitch said the UN should support Israel's struggle against terrorism.

"The UN and the democratic countries, some of which face similar challenges from extremist elements, support Israel in its struggle against terrorism and against organizations that deny its right to exist," Abramovitch said.

Holmes took issue with the director-general's remarks.

"It would be very hard to construe from what I said anything that would be encouraging terrorism," he said.

"There is a crisis [in Gaza] that has increasingly severe humanitarian consequences," Holmes said at a press conference in Jerusalem, adding that Kassam rocket attacks on Israelis don't justify actions that "collectively penalize an entire population."

While Israel holds Hamas responsible for the economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, Holmes believes Israel is "largely in control of what happens in Gaza."

"Israel continues to have the obligation of an occupying power in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza, and Israel must fulfill those obligations," he said.

"I am deeply concerned that what is happening on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank is not a good basis on which to build a successful peace settlement," Holmes concluded.

The UN undersecretary also took issue with the security barrier and checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, israel national news

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