Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
30 July 2003
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN
AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, 30 JULY 2003
I would like to ask two questions. The first question is on the Middle East –- the Palestinian Authority has done what seems to be a creditable job of maintaining the truce, yet we see no commensurate concessions on the Israeli side. On the contrary, it now seems that President Bush has endorsed Ariel Sharon’s demand that the Palestinian Authority start to dismantle Hamas and other militant groups before he can take bigger steps. Does this development worry you? Could it undermine support for the “
Let me start with the Middle East. I think the Middle East peace process and the Road Map have made some progress –- some progress in the sense that we now have a ceasefire which has held for a couple of weeks. The Israeli Government has withdrawn from some parts of Gaza and Bethlehem, and I hope other withdrawals will follow. The Road Map demands of the parties parallel action for us to make progress: parallel action that is reinforcing –- actions that give hope to the Palestinians that there could be a State at the end of the process, and steps that also give assurances to the Israelis that steps are being taken to end violence and terrorism.
I do not think one should condition one’s own action in the way that your question implies. This is something that has worried those of us who worked on the Road Map: that past efforts failed because some of it became so conditioned that it was conditioned to death. We felt, on this one, there should be parallel steps by the parties; the Quartet stands by that approach and we would want to encourage that.
Secondly, with regard to the Palestinians, what do you, personally, feel about the fence that is being erected by Israel and about the question of the Palestinian prisoners?
On the question of the fence, I know that it is conventional wisdom that fences make good neighbours. But that is if you build a fence on your own land and you do not disrupt your neighbour’s life.
* *** *
For information media - not an official record