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25 October 2004 – Reacting to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's address in the Israeli parliament today, a senior United Nations envoy said he was encouraged by the leader's reiteration of support for a Palestinian State and his readiness to take "painful steps" to make it happen.
The comments by Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, came in response to Mr. Sharon stating in the Knesset his wish not to rule over millions of Palestinians, emphasizing that Israel is a democracy and that his plan to withdraw from Gaza is a gateway to another reality.
Mr. Roed-Larsen confirmed his strong belief that the only viable resolution to this conflict is the two-State solution. "The Road Map is the only path towards that goal," he said, referring to an outline peace plan accepted by both sides. "A full and complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, accompanied by vacating settlements in the West Bank, must be the first major move to speed up the process leading to the full implementation of the goals of the Road Map."
The UN envoy repeated those sentiments in a speech today marking UN Day, traditionally observed on 24 October.
At ceremonies held in Jerusalem, Mr. Roed-Larsen strongly advocated the two-State solution. "Lasting peace will only be possible if ultimately, the occupation that began in 1967 ends and leads to the coexistence of two States, Israel and Palestine, side by side within secure and recognized borders," he said.
"This goal can only be reached over the negotiating table in full cooperation with the international community and the Quartet, and not through acts of violence," he said, referring to the diplomatic grouping which brings together the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States.
"The Road Map and the Quartet mechanism are now ore important that ever," he stressed in his commemorative remarks.
UN Day marks the founding of the United Nations on 24 October 1945 after the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States - the five permanent members of the Security Council - and by a majority of other signatories.