UN pushes Palestinians to keep cease-fire alive
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority must do more to ensure all Palestinian factions keep alive a fragile cease-fire and end all violence, a senior U.N. official told the Security Council on Friday.
The world body was particularly concerned over a serious escalation by Palestinian militants in rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli targets in recent weeks, said Kieran Prendergast, the undersecretary-general for political affairs.
Israel has also recently resumed targeting Palestinian militants from the air whom it suspected were engaged in suspicious activity, Prendergast said, reminding both sides of the need to take special care to protect civilian bystanders.
While there has been serious violence on both sides, this has not yet resulted in a prolonged breakdown of the tenuous calm between Israelis and Palestinians over the past four months, the U.N. official said during the council's regular monthly briefing on the Middle East crisis.
"There is evidence of a serious effort on the Palestinian side to maintain the calm and, on the Israeli side, of determination not to overreact to isolated incidents," Prendergast said. But he was concerned some Palestinian factions had threatened to stop observing the cease-fire.
"We expect the Palestinian Authority to exert greater efforts to impose its authority on all Palestinian groups -- including the militants -- to establish law and order, to ensure the endurance of the current cease-fire and to guarantee an end to all violence," he said.
At the same time, he encouraged Israel to do more to help the Palestinian Authority carry out its responsibilities, through closer security coordination and other measures designed to encourage mutual trust.
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