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Department of Public Information (DPI)
24 September 2007
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
OPPORTUNITY EXISTS TO REBUILD MUTUAL CONFIDENCE BETWEEN ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS;
AD HOC LIAISON COMMITTEE MEETING IS IMPORTANT STEP, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in New York, today:
Let me begin by thanking you, [Norwegian] Foreign Minister [Jonas Gahr] Støre, for arranging this meeting at such a crucial time. I am honoured to co-chair this important meeting here at UN Headquarters.
I particularly want to welcome Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad and Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni. I say to both of you that you and your citizens have my support and solidarity as you try to restore confidence in the possibility of peace.
All of us here today share a common goal: two States living side by side in peace and security.
The Quartet met yesterday, together with our representative Tony Blair. And we met members of the Arab League follow-up committee last night. These were extremely productive meetings.
At the centre of our renewed efforts is the bilateral dialogue between President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert. They have our strong support and encouragement as they seek to address the fundamental issues, in the lead-up to the international meeting called by President [George W.] Bush.
This dialogue has already yielded positive results, including the resumption of vital tax and customs revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority and the consequent payment of full salaries to public sector workers, as well as the beginnings of closer security cooperation.
We need to build upon these steps with additional ones. Only if the peace process rests on solid institutional and economic foundations does it have a chance of succeeding. That is why today’s meeting is so important, and why I strongly support the convening of a donor’s conference later in the year.
Prime Minister Fayyad and his Government should know they have our full support in facing the difficult challenges ahead.
Living conditions are worsening for a growing number of Palestinians. Institutions -- weakened by several years of crisis, by fiscal uncertainty, and by recent divisions -- must be rebuilt and reformed if they are to lay credible foundations for a future State.
The consolidation of security, justice and the rule of law are of immediate priority in this respect, and vital to build confidence among Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Prime Minister Fayyad’s efforts to draw up a comprehensive reform and development plan are a positive first step, which I fully support.
Likewise, Israel faces several challenges, including continuing security threats which cannot be ignored. A political solution is required to deliver long-term security to Israel. It is in our common interest to improve the situation on the ground so that such a solution is brought nearer. Steps must be taken to facilitate economic renewal and restore hope.
Access and movement, for Palestinian workers, professionals, businessmen, and for commercial goods, will need to be eased as a matter of priority. There are risks in taking action, but the risks of inaction at this time are far greater.
There is also the challenge of Gaza. I believe we are all deeply concerned about the de facto separation of the two parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the efforts of Hamas to set up a competing Government, and the continuing violence in and emanating from Gaza.
I am particularly concerned for the welfare of the ordinary people of Gaza, who find themselves and their goods increasingly cut off from the outside world.
We have a shared responsibility to act with wisdom, realism and foresight to help the population there, and create conditions to peacefully reintegrate Gaza under the Palestinian Authority.
The work of the Quartet representative in the coming months will be critical. Mr. Blair has just returned from an extended visit to the region.
He has already begun to work with the parties to identify ways to strengthen the Palestinian economy and the institutions of Palestinian statehood.
Mr. Blair briefed the Quartet and Arab League members yesterday. His agenda received a strong endorsement. I am very glad he will share his thoughts today with you.
I also want to reiterate how much I welcome and encourage Arab support and engagement. The Arab Peace Initiative provides a key reference for progress. Our Arab partners also have enormous potential to contribute with practical support on the ground, and it is vital that we work together to maximize results.
We have a new opportunity to build a cycle of mutual confidence, one in which calm, moderation and growing trust have a chance to prevail.
I see this meeting as an important step towards rebuilding that trust, and making it felt by ordinary Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Let us ensure that, when donors gather later in the year, we already have results to show for our efforts.
In that spirit, I wish you well in your discussions today.
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