Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
1 December 1997
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES FIRM COMMITMENT OF UNITED NATIONS
IN SUPPORT OF MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
On International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People,
Kofi Annan Says Essential to Create Political, Economic Conditions for Peace
Following is the statement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed today:
The annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an occasion to remember, to reflect and to renew our commitment.
Since the General Assembly decided on 29 November 1947 to partition Palestine, each of my predecessors has been deeply involved in the search for an equitable and peaceful settlement of this issue.
They have also mobilized the resources of the entire United Nations family to provide humanitarian and development assistance. I pledge to continue these efforts.
This commemorative event provides an opportunity to remind the international community that the question of Palestine, which lies at the centre of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, remains unresolved despite the many efforts made over the years and the undeniable achievements of the peace process which began at Madrid in 1991.
With the signing of the historic Declaration of Principles on 13 September 1993 and subsequent agreements which we refer to as the Oslo process, Israelis and Palestinians embarked on the road to mutual reconciliation and a negotiated peace. We must commend their courage.
It was also reassuring that earlier this year, after a lengthy delay, the Protocol concerning the redeployment in Hebron was signed. It is now of the utmost importance to prevent those achievements from dissipating, and to build on them to fulfil the hopes of all the peoples of the region for a future of peace.
Regrettably, developments since then have sparked concern that the peace process is in jeopardy, compelling me to voice dismay at horrifying acts of violence against innocent civilians. At the same time, I have appealed to the parties not to let themselves be swayed by these tragic incidents; but rather to intensify their efforts to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of a speedy return to the peace process.
I have called on the parties to take measures, in a spirit of partnership, to restore mutual confidence.
I have called on them to resume negotiations in earnest towards implementation of the agreements already reached, and towards a final settlement.
I am encouraged that the parties were able to resume talks in Washington recently. I sincerely hope that, with the help and involvement of the co-sponsors of the peace process, they will be able to make progress on the outstanding issues; I hope that it will also become possible to resume talks on the other tracks of the Middle East peace process.
As public opinion surveys and mass demonstrations have made absolutely clear, the vast majority of Palestinians and Israelis want a just peace that would enable them to live normally, side by side.
It is essential to create the political and economic conditions that will enable this hope to become reality.
Recent events, as well as deliberations in the Security Council and the General Assembly, including its Tenth Emergency Special Session, have highlighted the fundamental importance of respect for the provisions of international law and of full implementation of the agreements already reached. Also apparent is the urgent need to make tangible progress towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967, and 338 of 1973. The promotion of social and economic development and of cooperative relationships throughout the region is essential to create an environment favourable to a lasting peace.
The United Nations continues to attach the utmost importance to improving the living conditions in the Palestinian territories as an essential accompaniment to the peace negotiations. In this regard, I have been seriously concerned at the steady economic decline in the West Bank and in Gaza, particularly in the light of prolonged closures and other punitive measures. We now need real progress in the fields of employment, health, education, and development.
Enormous challenges remain. The deteriorating conditions on the ground have set back some of our efforts. I believe that the international community can, and must, go further.
In this context, the serious financial situation faced by UNRWA must be addressed; this is essential to ensure that the quality and level of services for Palestine refugees can be maintained as an essential contribution to stability in the area.
Today, I wish to take this opportunity to renew the firm commitment of the United Nations system in support of the peace process. I should like to extend my thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for organizing this observance.
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