Swiss support UN resolution

Israeli forces continue to surround Arafat's compound in Ramallah Keystone

Switzerland has backed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestinian cities.

This content was published on March 30, 2002 - 18:14

The resolution urged Israelis and Palestinians to move immediately towards securing a "meaningful ceasefire" and appealed for "the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah".

It also cited "grave concern" about the recent wave of suicide bombings in Israel and Friday's assault on the headquarters of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it fully supported the resolution and called on Israel cease military operations in Palestinian-controlled areas.

"We are asking the Israelis to put a stop to the deteriorating situation in which the president of the Palestinian Authority is finding himself," said Muriel Berset Kohen, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry.

Israeli withdrawal

On Friday, the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, called on Israel to pull out of Ramallah after Israeli tanks smashed their way into Arafat's compound.

Arafat's headquarters are located just 700 metres away from the Swiss liaison office to the Palestinian Authority.

In an interview on Swiss radio, Deiss also urged the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to ensure Arafat did not come to any harm.

"Yasser Arafat is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian Authority," Deiss said. "Nothing should be done which could harm him."

Call for restraint

The foreign minister also urged the Palestinians to revoke all forms of violence, and condemned the spate of suicide attacks against Israeli citizens.

Berset Kohen also told swissinfo that a Saudi peace initiative, delivered to the Arab League summit in Beirut on Thursday, was an important step forward.

"The Arab League endorsed the Saudi proposal ... and we think this should be accepted and put into action," she said. "Both sides should show restraint and go back to negotiations."

swissinfo with agencies

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