Russian parliamentarian reports on Mideast at pace session

An immediate lifting of blockade on the headquarters of the recognised leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, is of fundamental importance for Middle East settlement. The next step should be to implement the Tenet-Mitchell scheme, which remains the only balanced programme of normalisation adopted by both sides, said Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Council's international affairs committee and deputy head of a Russian delegation to the PACE. He had made a report "On the Situation in the Middle East" at a PACE session on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly's political commission. Only through consolidated efforts can the international community help achieve settlement in the Middle East. Unilateral attempts in that region are doomed to failure, he emphasised. Weapons will decide nothing in the Middle East, he said in his report. This cannot but be seen by the Israeli authorities, which have used practically all kinds of force at their disposal, yet have been unable to safeguard their citizens. This cannot but be understood by the Palestinians whose intifada led them only to a new painful and futile face-off with Israel. Achieving political aims by terror methods is absolutely unacceptable and will be supported by no one, Margelov noted. It is one of the September 11 lessons. Terrorism should be fought in accordance with the principles and norms of international law, the rapporteur said. Granting PACE observer status to a delegation of the Israeli Knesset means recognising the fact that Israel's society is democratic in its character and committed to the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe. The Israeli authorities must not allow actions that would call in question this commitment, and today such a danger exists, Margelov emphasised. It is time for closer cooperation with the Palestinian Legislative Council. This will enable its deputies to bring to the Palestinian people a PACE call to end terrorist acts and live in peace with Israel. A conclusion by the PACE commission on legal affairs and human rights notes in particular that "the report of the political commission is so comprehensive that hardly anything else can be added to it. Political solution, as is correctly indicated in the report, can be found if both sides begin again to observe the main principles of the Council of Europe: democracy, human rights, and law-based state". Ziad Abu-Sayad, a representative of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly, Minister for the Affairs of Jerusalem, invited to the session, spoke in debates. He said that Yasser Arafat is the sole Palestinian leader who can sign a peace agreement with Israel, and he should be given the opportunity to act in this direction.