Press Releases

    2 April 2002


    NEW YORK, 29 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following are remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at today’s open meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East:

    I have just returned from Beirut where Arab leaders made a historic decision to embrace Crown Prince Abdullah’s peace proposal, which confirmed the possibility of peace in the Middle East and proposed a way forward.

    And just prior to the Arab League Summit, the Security Council itself passed one of its most significant resolutions on the Middle East, resolution 1397, which affirmed the vision of two States –- Israel and Palestine -– living side by side, within secure, internationally recognized borders. The international community must do everything possible to advance these efforts. We should not allow terrorism and extremism to prevail over the pursuit of a political settlement.

    I am deeply alarmed at the rapid escalation of the violence in the Middle East that we have witnessed over the past two days. Horrific terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, first in Netanya and then in Jerusalem, have been carried out. Such attacks are aimed at undermining any prospect for a political settlement. I understand the anger of the Israeli Government and people over these attacks.

    The intention of such attacks, which I have consistently and unreservedly condemned as morally repugnant, is to subvert the possibility of any peaceful settlement. Terrorism will not bring the Palestinian people closer to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.

    Yet, I have also consistently voiced criticism over Israel’s use of disproportionate lethal force, especially in civilian populated areas in response to these attacks. Such use of force will bring neither peace nor security to Israel.

    Both sides need to adopt policies that re-enforce the prospects for a political process leading to a peaceful settlement, and eschew actions that make peaceful settlement through negotiations more difficult.

    I call on both Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat to exercise responsible leadership at this time. I would urge that they make every effort to take advantage of the outcome of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, which outlined a widely welcomed vision for full peace in the region. United States Special Envoy Zinni has put forward ceasefire proposals that should be accepted by the Palestinians. Israel should halt its assault on the Palestinian Authority; destroying the Palestinian Authority will not bring Israel closer to peace.

    At times like this it is possible to lose sight of the fact there is a path away from violence and war. Via the Mitchell recommendations, the parties should move quickly to achieve the two-State vision expressed in Security Council resolution 1397 of 12 March 2002, which is based on land for peace, and Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

    In your debate this evening, I would urge you to consider not only the alarming deterioration of the situation on the ground, but also how the international community can help ensure that your resolutions, in particular 1397, can become a reality, and how the international community can help the parties get back to the table.

    Thank you.

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