UN rights chief: Cease-fire good first step

The United Nations' top human rights official called the cease-fire agreement reached last week between Israelis and Palestinians "indispensable" to reducing the threat facing civilians on both sides. However, Louise Arbour told the global body's rights watchdog that the crisis Israelis and Palestinians are facing will not be resolved through short-term solutions. "Addressing and resolving the human rights in the region cannot be held hostage to either stopgap measures that may be revoked, or to a resolution of the political crisis that may prove still someway off," said Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights. She told the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council that the cease-fire agreed late Saturday to end five months of fighting in Gaza was "a first, indispensable step toward reducing harm to civilians." But she said it was important that authorities on both sides fulfill their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. "To do so is required by law and should be implemented by all those who profess to be sincerely committed to achieving a lasting peace," said Arbour, who recently returned from a four-day mission to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. "The human rights of Israelis and Palestinians cannot be the subject of negotiation or compromise," she added.