28 June 2006

Parallel Commitments by Parties to Advancing Key Issues Is Essential, Says Secretary-General in Message to UN Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian Peace

NEW YORK, 27 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, in Vienna, delivered today by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs:

It gives me pleasure to send my greetings to the participants in this meeting organized under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Your event is taking place at a time of continuing tension and uncertainty on the ground.  Acts of violence, often taking the lives of innocent civilians, are an almost daily occurrence.

The current period is also one of considerable change and transition for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The Palestinian people, through debate and a referendum planned for July, are trying to agree on a common platform to bolster national unity.  It is hoped that, in this process, the Palestinian Government will move closer towards the principles outlined by the Quartet earlier this year.

Israel is considering a withdrawal from the West Bank.  If the process is negotiated and coordinated with the Palestinian side, it may help achieve the objective of a two-State solution.  If not, it may complicate efforts at achieving this goal and prejudice final status issues.

Parallel commitment by the parties to advancing key issues is essential.  I welcome the determination of President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert to pursue peace.  Let us remember that clear majorities of Israelis and Palestinians want a negotiated, two-State solution.  It is the responsibility of all parties to respond to that urgent and deeply-felt need.  Regional partners have an important facilitating role in this process.  Indeed, a two-State solution is crucial not only for the security and prosperity of Israelis and Palestinians, but for the stability of the region as a whole.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to be deeply troubling.  The Quartet recently endorsed a proposal by the European Union for the establishment of a temporary international mechanism to deliver assistance to the Palestinian people.  Work on the proposal has been completed, and assistance will soon begin reaching those in need.  In the meantime, Israel should take steps to improve the humanitarian situation, in keeping with its responsibilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and obligations arising from previous agreements.  I also urge international donors to help avert a humanitarian crisis by responding without delay to the latest consolidated appeal.

The United Nations, for its part, will remain fully engaged in efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just, lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515.  Please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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