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Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
29 November 1996
SECRETARY-GENERAL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT OF UNITED NATIONS
TO MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS, PALESTINIAN DEVELOPMENT
Marks International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People
This is the text of a statement by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali today on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:
This annual commemorative event provides an opportunity to remind the international community that the question of Palestine, which is at the centre of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, remains unresolved despite the many efforts that have been made over the years and despite the peace process which began at Madrid in 1991. This issue is very close to my heart and I have devoted, and will continue to devote, my best efforts to contribute to the achievement of a comprehensive and just peace in the region.
I have paid tribute to the leaders of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for their resolve and dedication in proceeding towards historic reconciliation and in reaching agreements of crucial importance for their future peaceful coexistence. The establishment of an elected Palestinian administration over Gaza and parts of the West Bank earlier this year was a significant advance along this road. It is now of the utmost importance not to dissipate those achievements, but to build on them in order to fulfil the hopes of all the peoples of the region for a future of peace and security.
The resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations has been an encouraging development. It is essential that the parties should abide by agreements already reached, and make tangible progress towards a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement based on Security Council resolutions
. But the proposed construction of new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza poses a serious threat to the continuation of the peace process. I hope that progress can also be made in the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese tracks of the Middle East peace process.
The United Nations continues to attach the utmost importance to the promotion of Palestinian social and economic development. This is essential in order to alleviate the impact of the closure, to improve living conditions and to create solid foundations for the achievement of a lasting peace. The move of the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from Vienna to Gaza, which took place in July, should provide a new momentum towards meeting the United Nations development objectives in support of the Palestinian economy. However, enormous challenges remain, and some of our efforts have suffered setbacks during the year in light of the deteriorating conditions on the ground. I believe that the international community can, and should, go further. In this context, the serious financial situation faced by UNRWA requires new efforts by all concerned to ensure that the quality and level of services for Palestine refugees can be maintained as an essential contribution to stability in the area, and I wish to thank Commissioner-General Peter Hansen for his continuous effort in this respect.
I would like to take this opportunity to renew once again the firm commitment of the United Nations in support of the peace process. The programmes and agencies of the United Nations system will continue to provide all possible expertise and assistance in humanitarian relief and in the fields of economic and social development, in order to contribute to creating the necessary conditions for peace.
In conclusion, I should like to extend my thanks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and its Chairman.
(Translation from Arabic): I salute the Palestinian people. I salute the leadership of the Palestinian people.
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* Reissued as delivered.
For information media - not an official record