Press Releases

                                                                                                                     16 April 2004

    Attempts by Israelis, Palestinians to Achieve Goals Through Measures That Injure the Other ‘Bound to Fail’, Says Secretary-General to Geneva Meeting

    NEW YORK, 15 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the United Nations International Meeting on the Impact of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, in Geneva, 15 and 16 April, delivered by Sergei Ordhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva:

    The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel can only be described as grave. Violence continues virtually unabated, with extrajudicial assassinations, suicide bombings, and threats of even more aggressive retaliation. The Palestinian humanitarian plight –- the appalling conditions in which many ordinary Palestinians currently live -- is likewise a cause for great concern. And the safety and stability of an already volatile region are at risk.

    You are meeting to discuss Israel’s construction of a barrier in the West Bank. I have repeatedly expressed my concerns over the route of the barrier, and over its actual and potential impact on the humanitarian situation of Palestinian civilians, particularly those who may be placed between the barrier and the Green Line and thus deprived of full access to lands, livelihoods and services. I have also expressed my concern over the implications of the barrier’s construction for a future Palestinian state.

    Last November, pursuant to a request by the General Assembly, I issued a detailed report on the barrier. And as you are aware, the International Court of Justice is seized of the matter, with a view to providing an advisory opinion on the issue. I continue to follow the situation closely, awaiting the outcome of the Court’s deliberations.

    In the meantime, I urge the parties to return to the negotiating table. Attempts by either side to achieve political goals or security through measures that injure the other are ultimately bound to fail, even if they seem to produce short-term gains. Over the long term, the only real hope lies in realizing the vision, widely supported by the international community, of a region where two States -– Israel and Palestine -– live side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders.

         Surely, to live a normal life in peace and security is a cherished goal shared by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians. Regrettably, the many decades of strife, death and destruction have not brought this goal any closer. It remains incumbent on all of us to do everything in our power to see that the parties implement the Quartet’s Road Map, which both have accepted, and to resume meaningful movement towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515. Please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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