"There is a sense that Israel and the United Nations have rediscovered each other," Mr. Annan said as he wrapped up his trip in Israel last night at a dinner hosted by Israeli President Moshe Katsav.
The inauguration earlier Tuesday of the Museum at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem had been well-timed, coming at a time of renewed hope for peace in the Middle East and as Israel and the UN continue to build a new relationship, the Secretary-General added.
Throughout his four days in the region, Mr. Annan said, his talks with the leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, had left him "very encouraged."
"I do not want to give the impression that it is going to be easy, there are hurdles along the road, but I think with a clear determination and good will on both sides, a lot can be done," he said after one meeting.
He noted recent developments, including last month's agreement at a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas whereby all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and Israel will cease all its military activities against all Palestinians everywhere.
He emphasized the importance of the Road Map peace plan drafted by the diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to take parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side by side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.