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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
22 March 2007


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, taking place at the Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters in Rome, 22-23 March, as delivered today by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva:

I extend greetings to all participants in this United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, organized under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

You meet at a critical moment for the future of efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.  Important developments are taking place among Palestinians, between Palestinians and Israelis, in the region and internationally.  Taken together, these hold the potential, if not yet the promise, to overcome a period of violence and despair and replace it with a future of dialogue and hope.

The agreement reached in Mecca has brought relative calm to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government last weekend is a very significant step forward.  I hope this will also lay the groundwork for a Government that will respect existing agreements with Israel and reflect Quartet principles.  The international community will naturally be following closely the actions of this new Government, and we hope that the expectations that the Palestinian people and the international community have of it will be fulfilled.

It is also important and encouraging that President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have continued their dialogue, both in a bilateral setting and in a trilateral one, along with Secretary Rice, on ways to ensure that existing commitments are met and a political horizon can be made clear.  Equally vital are the efforts of regional countries, based on the Arab Peace Initiative, to stretch out the hand of peace.

Serious obstacles remain, threatening to block progress.  The humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to worsen.  Israeli military operations, continuing settlement activity and severe movement restrictions erode prospects for socio-economic recovery.  The expansion of settlements and construction of the barrier in the West Bank intensify feelings of mistrust, anger and despair, pushing the chances of peace farther away.

At the same time, continued rocket attacks at Israel and indiscriminate violence against civilians are totally unjustified, and only reinforce a sense of insecurity among Israelis.  For its part, Israel must ensure that it exercises its right to defend itself in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law, so as not to endanger civilians.

It is clear that a parallel commitment by the parties is essential for advancing on key issues.  A majority of Israelis and Palestinians support a negotiated settlement whereby two independent States, Israel and Palestine, would live side by side in peace and security.  It is vital that their leaders take concrete actions which show their commitment to achieving that goal, by word and deed.  The United Nations, for its part, will remain fully engaged in efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, the Arab Peace Initiative and the principle of land for peace.  I am hopeful that your Meeting will make its own contribution and I wish you all the best in your deliberations.

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For information media • not an official record

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