Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


27 November 1998




Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is observed annually on 29 November:

On this day 51 years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution which, if implemented, would have created an Arab and a Jewish State in Palestine, living side by side in peaceful coexistence. Year after year, this anniversary provides the international community with an opportunity -- and an obligation -- to refocus its attention on the distressing fact that, after more than half a century, the issue of Palestine remains unresolved.

Since taking office, I have made every effort to support the peace process in the Middle East -- and to mobilize the resources of the United Nations family to help create an economic and social environment favourable to peace. When I visited the region earlier this year, I witnessed the hardship and deprivation caused by decades of conflict, as well as the yearning on all sides for a peaceful future. I took the opportunity to appeal to the leaders of all parties to continue building on the achievements of the peace process, to make every effort to resume the negotiations in earnest, and to take the difficult decisions needed to move towards reconciliation and cooperation.

The recent signing of the Wye River Memorandum by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, coming as it did after many months of uncertainty and concern over the future of the peace process, is an encouraging development. In approving the agreement, the Government of Israel has shown its readiness to continue on the road, so courageously embarked upon by its predecessor, of accommodation with the Palestinian people and their chosen representatives. We earnestly hope that this agreement will be implemented in all its aspects and will pave the way for the resumption of negotiations on all tracks.

Regrettably, incidents of violence by elements opposed to the peace process have continued to cost lives and to mar progress. They must be condemned. I appeal again to the parties not to be swayed by such incidents, but instead, to redouble their efforts in pursuit of a lasting solution to the conflict. It is necessary for the parties to address not only the manifestations, but also the causes of violence; to restore hope, mutual confidence and a spirit of partnership; and to work together for a future of peace, cooperation and good-neighbourliness.

More than 50 years after the adoption of the resolution whose anniversary we mark today, and as we near the end of the process originally envisaged under the 1993 Declaration of Principles, positive advances along this road are needed urgently. It is also essential to create the political and economic conditions that will enable this hope to be realized in practice. A rapid improvement in living conditions in the Palestinian territories is an essential accompaniment to the peace negotiations. Real progress in the fields of employment, health, education, human rights and industrial and commercial development is urgently needed to strengthen support for the peace process. Despite the ongoing efforts of the United Nations entities present on the ground, much still needs to be done to alleviate existing conditions and to lay a solid foundation for future development.

I firmly believe that the international community can and should go further. In particular, the serious financial situation faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) requires intensified efforts by all concerned to ensure that the quality and level of services for Palestine refugees can be maintained as an essential contribution to stability in the area.

The United Nations family will continue to provide all possible expertise and assistance in humanitarian relief and economic and social development in order to contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for peace. And so, let us seize this day to renew once again the firm commitment of the United Nations in support of the peace process. Let us rededicate ourselves to the objective of achieving a just and lasting settlement in the Middle East, in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians but also as part of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, so essential to peace and security throughout the world.

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* Reissued to correct information in the first paragraph.

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