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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israelis, Palestinians Interrogated at UN

UNITED NATIONS -- Frustrated United Nations Security Council members grilled the Israeli ambassador on why Israel is defying its repeated demands for to end increasingly deadly attacks on Palestinian cities -- and again demanded the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Israel's UN Ambassador Yehuda Lancry told the council Monday that a cease-fire must precede or accompany a military pullout, insisting this is what the council resolutions call for -- not withdrawal "in a vacuum."

Israel believes that with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's direct involvement, the council's demand for an immediate cease-fire, an Israeli withdrawal and a start to negotiations on a political settlement "can be fully implemented," Lancry said.

But speaker after speaker at an open Security Council debate on the escalating conflict echoed U.S. President George W. Bush, insisting that immediate meant today, not later this week when Powell is expected in the region.

Reflecting the council's widespread anger and frustration, Britain's UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said the council's nearly two-hour private session with Lancry before the open meeting focusing on the continuing Israeli attacks "was extremely disappointing."

"We know why they're doing it. ... But you cannot deal with this by the disproportionate use of military violence. This has clearly not sunk in," he said. "The damage being done to civilians, to women and children, which is really exercising the council, is not being heeded, and we're not convinced by the answers."

The Security Council also grilled Palestinian UN observer Nasser Al-Kidwa privately for nearly an hour to find out why the Palestinian Authority has not implemented the council's demand for an immediate cease-fire and called for a halt to suicide bombings and other terrorist acts.

At the council's second open meeting in five days on the Middle East, nearly 25 countries spoke. About 25 more were scheduled to address the council when the meeting resumed Tuesday morning.

In a tough opening speech, Al-Kidwa called Israelis "the new war criminals" and demanded the prosecution of those responsible for attacking Palestinians, saying Israeli military chief of staff Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz should be at the top of the list.

Nonetheless, he said the first step to peace and an independent Palestinian state is "the immediate and unconditional implementation" of the council's resolution calling for a cease-fire, Israeli withdrawal and return to negotiations. "Let's do that together," he said.

The council has adopted three resolutions in just over three weeks, outlining a blueprint for an immediate cease-fire and immediate Israeli troop withdrawal, fresh talks and a peace deal culminating with the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Britain's Greenstock and France's UN Ambassador Jean-David Levitte said third-party involvement has become essential and could lead to outside monitoring, but Greenstock opposed another resolution now.