UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The Security Council, "deeply concerned by the escalation in violence" and deploring the loss of life on both sides, late Thursday told Israel to immediately withdraw from Palestinian-controlled "Area A" territories.
The panel also endorsed diplomatic initiatives and the Gaza statement calling for compliance with the Sept. 26 cease-fire accord. The Gaza statement was issued by the European Union, Russia and the United States, after a meeting with Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.
"Members strongly supported all the elements contained in the statement issued this evening," said Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland, this month's rotating president of the Security Council. Besides representatives in the region of the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation, the Special Coordinator of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Terje Roed-Larsen also endorsed the statement.
Ryan also said in the informal statement read aloud to reporters that council members welcomed the resumption Friday of further diplomatic efforts.
A disappointed Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian observer to the United Nations, said the statement "has elements which reflect good intentions on the part of the members of the Security Council. Obviously those members are concerned and they want to see a different situation."
He quickly added, "However, the fact remains there was no concrete action by the Security Council."
Al-Kidwa expressed hope there would be action, as in a council resolution, rather than just a statement, from the 15-member panel otherwise the panel "will have again failed to fulfill its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."
Arafat met in Gaza Thursday afternoon with Larsen, the European Union's Miguel Moratinos, Russia's Andrea Vidovin, the U.S. Consul General, Roland Schlieker and representatives of more than 45 Arab and foreign countries.
Larsen said the envoys and Arafat discussed the importance of both sides fully complying with the Sept. 26 cease-fire. He said steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to ensure the strict implementation of the cease-fire had been undermined by the Oct. 17 assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavaam Zeevi
Since then at least 50 Palestinians reportedly have been killed as Israeli forces attacked towns and villages in the West Bank classified as Palestinian-controlled "A" areas under Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
"We urged him (Arafat) to make concerted efforts to ensure full and strict compliance with the Palestinian Authority's cease-fire orders, including arresting those who defy those orders and taking further steps against terrorist organizations," said the statement Larsen read following the meeting. "We stressed that the international community recognizes the Palestinian Authority as the only entity responsible for security in the Palestinian Territory."
The same Gaza statement called on Israel to immediately withdraw from area A, and halt "extra killings to ensure that the Israeli Defense Forces fully respects the cease-fire and to swiftly ease the closures according to the Sept. 26 (Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon) Peres-Arafat understanding" and to take steps to immediately implement the Mitchell report and Tenet plan for a resumption of political dialogue.
The Security Council welcomed resumption of the same talks and agreed the panel "should speak with one voice on this matter" and was going "to keep the situation under close review in light of further developments and to revert to it once again in the coming days," said Ryan.
"I think it's a strong endorsement of the diplomatic efforts that are underway," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. "I think we'll just have to watch the situation from day to day and hope the situation does in fact de-escalate and does permit the diplomatic effort to go forward."