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Switzerland renews calls for Israeli withdrawal

The Foreign Ministry said it disagreed with Israel's military presence in the Occupied Territories


For the second time in less than two months, Switzerland has summoned Israel's ambassador in Bern, Ygal Antebi, to demand an Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories.

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday told Antebi it disagreed with Israeli military operations in the West Bank following last weekend's Palestinian suicide bombings.

The ministry called on Israel to "grant the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, freedom of movement so that he can reduce the escalating violence in which Israeli and Palestinian civilians are the principal victims."

The ministry condemned in the strongest terms "the indiscriminate use of violence as a means of political action". It also expressed its condolences for the victims of last weekend's suicide bombings.

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

Grave concern

The UN resolution cited cited "grave concern" about the recent wave of suicide bombings in Israel and the assault on the headquarters of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The resolution urged both sides to move toward a "meaningful ceasefire" and appealed for "the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah".

The Swiss Foreign Ministry 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.

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has also called on Israel to pull out of Ramallah after Israeli tanks smashed their way into Arafat's compound, which is just 700 metres away from the Swiss liaison office to the Palestinian Authority.

swissinfo with agencies

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