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UN Security Council Unanimously Endorses Mideast Peace 'Road Map'
Peter Heinlein
VOA, United Nations
19 Nov 2003, 22:04 UTC

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously endorsed the so-called road map to peace in the Middle East. It envisions a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Security Council's approval came after the United States dropped its objections to the measure.

The measure, known as Resolution 1515, is relatively non-controversial. It expresses grave concern at the continuation of violence in the Middle East, and endorses the road map for peace sponsored by Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations - known as the Quartet.

After the 15-0 vote, Palestinian Ambassador Nasser al-Kidwa emerged from the Security Council chamber ecstatic. "This resolution could be a watershed in the history of the Middle East peace process," he said.

Mr. Al-Kidwa predicted that Resolution 1515 will take its place alongside other well-known resolutions in the Middle East, such as 242 and 338. "This is the first Security Council resolution that has its focus entirely on the two-state solution. Israel and Palestine," he said.

Russia introduced the resolution late last month, seeking consensus support of the Quartet's peacemaking efforts. But it went nowhere in the face of opposition from the United States.

After Wednesday's vote, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Washington's position shifted last week after a Palestinian government took office. "One specific reservation we had at the time the Russians put it forward, was that there was no Palestinian government. A Palestinian government has now been formed, and the conditions became somewhat more propitious," he said.

Israeli diplomats made clear they were not pleased with passage of the resolution, and reiterated Israel's concerns about some steps outlined in the road map. Israel's deputy U.N. Ambassador Arye Mekel said words were no substitute for an end to Palestinian violence. "Israel has proved its willingness to implement the road map before. We are ready to do so again, provided we have a Palestinian partner committed to eradicating terror and pursuing peaceful negotiated settlement as its top priority. We don't believe the key thing now is additional resolutions or statements. There have been plenty of those. We need action, not words," he said.

Ambassador Mekel said his government was ready to comply with the road map, but only when the Palestinians dismantle terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. His statement, however, coincided with word from the region that the new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, had traveled to the Gaza Strip during the day in a bid to persuade Palestinian factions to halt attacks against Israel.