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With Middle East violence rising, Annan calls for efforts to negotiate settlement

New York, Jul 16 2005 3:00PM - Voicing alarm at the renewed violence between Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on both sides to work for a negotiated settlement.

In a statement released by his spokesman, the Secretary-General said the recent suicide bombing in Netanya and rockets fired from Gaza killing innocent Israeli civilians "are shocking and condemnable." He also welcomed efforts by the Palestinian Authority security forces to prevent them.

Mr. Annan noted that Israel "has resumed forceful action in the face of the serious deterioration that has shattered the lull in violence of the past few months." While stressing Israel's legitimate right to self-defence, he said "it must be exercised proportionately and in conformity with international law."

The Secretary-General emphasized that at this critical moment "a glimmer of a better future with two States living side-by-side in peace still exists" and called for all committed to a negotiated settlement to "remain focused on this goal."