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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
21 September 2006

Security Council and others must rise to their ‘responsibilities’ in the Middle East: Annan

21 September 2006 Lamenting the Security Council’s failure to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the 15-member body to work closely with all its partners in the region so they can all rise to their “responsibilities,” warning of a possible irreversible strategic setback if the situation for Palestinians does not improve.

“Like no other conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict carries a powerful symbolic and emotional charge for people throughout the world… And our continued failure to resolve this conflict calls into question the legitimacy and the effectiveness of this Council itself.”

“The parties must now rise to their responsibilities. So must the Quartet and our partners in the region. And so must this Council. With all the tools at our disposal, let us work together to put in place a credible political process, based on dialogue, parallel implementation of obligations, monitoring of performance, and clarity.”

Mr. Annan made his comments in an address to a ministerial-level meeting of the Council that was requested by the League of Arab States, and which followed yesterday’s gathering of the so-called diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, comprising the United Nations, United States, European Union (EU) and Russia.

The Quartet welcomed recent efforts to form a Palestinian national unity government in the hope that it would commit to non-violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, thus allowing for renewed engagement, and in his speech Mr. Annan also praised the group for recognizing that “greater engagement is crucial… with the parties and in the region.”

“Today, we deal with a difficult situation in Gaza, in which the Authority is starved of resources… The Palestinian society is rapidly becoming poorer. If this were to continue, and the Palestinian Authority were to collapse, the consequent fragmentation and radicalization of Palestinian society would be a terrible, perhaps irreversible, strategic setback,” he warned.

Mr. Annan highlighted that Palestinians living in Gaza and in the West Bank “under occupation have neither a State nor a functioning government,” but he also acknowledged the right of Israelis to demand an end to rocket attacks against the south, the return of a soldier captured in June and a Palestinian Authority “that accepts basic principles of peace.”

He said that the recent fighting between Hizbollah and Israel had reminded the world how “dangerous it is to leave the broader Arab-Israeli conflict unresolved,” but added the role of the Security Council in bringing about a cessation of hostilities shows it can be “vital” to achieving peace in the region.

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