9 June 2006

For Lasting Middle East Peace, No Substitute for Durable, Negotiated Solution, Says Secretary-General in Message to Moscow Media Seminar

NEW YORK, 8 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, "New Challenges in the Middle East Peace Process and Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue", delivered by Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in Moscow, 8 June:

You gather at a time when potentially transformative decisions are being contemplated that could affect the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, and the prospects for peace, for many years to come.  Thus I am pleased to have this opportunity to preface what will no doubt be your very detailed discussions with a few general comments.

First, I hope you are all aware that the United Nations has just issued a revised Consolidated Appeal to address the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people.  The Appeal represents an 80 per cent increase over what we had previously expected to require, and reflects our very real concern about the extent of the current difficulties.  I have urged donors to fully fund the Appeal, and to support the work of UN agencies.  With Palestinian suffering already acute, we must all do our part to avert a full-scale humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  In addition, as you know, the United Nations is working very closely with the European Union and our other Quartet partners to create a temporary international mechanism to ensure assistance to the Palestinian people.  It is my hope that this mechanism can be put in place as soon as possible.

Second, our over-arching goal remains lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.  For this to be achieved, the parties must deal with each other, face to face.  Any Israeli desire to withdraw from the West Bank is to be welcomed, but there is no substitute for a durable, negotiated solution, and no other way to resolve final status issues.  I am pleased that Prime Minister Olmert has said he would exhaust every possibility to promote peace with the Palestinians.

On the Palestinian side, President Abbas is a partner whose commitment to a peacefully negotiated two-State solution is unquestioned.  The Quartet, for its part, has made clear its position on what is expected of the Palestinian Authority government.  I hope that the well-known desire of the Palestinian people for a negotiated, two-State solution will emerge strengthened from the internal Palestinian discussion and debate now under way, and that their desire will be reflected in the positions taken by the government.

Your agenda for this seminar reflects the great breadth of issues facing the parties.  The international community, for its part, has an interest and a duty to help them not only to return to negotiations, but also to see them through to a just, lasting and peaceful solution in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515.  I thank all the participants for contributing their experience and expertise to this seminar, and wish you all the best for a constructive encounter.

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