"No issue has so divided the world since the end of the cold war," Mr. Annan told the EU Conference in Athens. "It is vital that we heal that division now. The world cannot afford a long period of recrimination."
He also referred to the efforts of the EU and UN, together with the United States and the Russian Federation - the so-called diplomatic Quartet - to produce a "road map" plan for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a threat to peace and stability on the EU's very doorstep.
"That is why the United Nations is working so hard together with you, in the Quartet, to realize the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security - a solution which must be the keystone of a comprehensive settlement, based on United Nations resolutions," he declared.
"I am convinced, as you are, that we now have a Road Map that can take us to that destination. We must urgently persuade both parties to summon the political will to follow it - not setting pre-conditions for each other, but marching forward together towards peace."