Press Releases

    9 March 2005

    “This Is a Moment of Promise” in Search for Middle East Peace Says Secretary-General in Message to Geneva Meeting

    NEW YORK, 8 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, delivered by Sergei Ordhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, in Geneva, 8 March:

    This is a moment of promise in the search for peace in the Middle East.  There is once again a real sense that, after long years of suffering, bitterness and despair, better days may at last lie ahead.

    The summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in January heralded a fresh start in efforts to end four years of bloodshed among Israelis and Palestinians. The agreement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to end violence signalled a new attitude of cooperation and the rebuilding of trust between the two sides.

    Last week’s meetings in London built on that breakthrough.  The session on Palestinian reform hosted by Prime Minister Blair pointed the way towards important changes in governance, security and economic development that are vital for the creation of an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian State.  The Quartet expressed full support for those efforts, and pledged to help Israelis and Palestinians implement the Sharm el-Sheik understandings and their obligations under the Road Map.  I am determined that the United Nations will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, the Quartet, donors and other partners to create an environment in which these new initiatives will take root and flourish.

    You are meeting to discuss the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the barrier being built in the occupied Palestinian territory.  As you know, in January I sent a letter to the President of the General Assembly in which I outlined a framework for the register of damage the Assembly has asked me to establish.  Work is proceeding on this, and I expect to report shortly.

    The long-cherished dream of a vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians has been to live a normal life in peace and security.  At long last, all of us can sense a newfound movement towards that dream.  I urge everyone -- the parties and the international community -- to refrain from any actions that would be detrimental to the resumption of negotiations and implementation of the Road Map, or that could prejudge the resolution of final status issues.  Let us all remain focused on our long-standing objective of two States -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, as called for by relevant Security Council resolutions.   And let us do our utmost to turn the current moment of potential into a real end to the conflict.

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