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Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
10 June 1997
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES HOPE THAT PARTIES IN MIDDLE EAST WILL INTENSIFY
EFFORTS TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES TO SPEEDY RETURN TO PEACE PROCESS
In Statement to Special Meeting of Palestinian
Rights Committee in Commemoration of Thirtieth Anniversary of Occupation
Following is the statement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the occupation, held today at Headquarters:
Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967. This meeting reflects the international community's continued dedication to finding a permanent and peaceful solution to the Palestinian question.
The United Nations has always played a central role in assisting the parties in their efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.
The signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1993 was a major breakthrough in those efforts.
The beginning of the Oslo peace process also opened major new opportunities for supportive action by the United Nations. Following the establishment of an elected Palestinian administration in Gaza and in parts of the West Bank, the United Nations increased its activities in the region in order to advance the economic and social development of the Palestinian territories.
A special mechanism for the effective coordination of international assistance was created in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. A United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories was appointed, based in Gaza, to serve as a focal point for all United Nations agencies and programmes operating on the ground.
Furthermore, in order to render the United Nations more effective, we decided to move the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) headquarters from Vienna to Gaza last year.
Earlier this year, I was very much encouraged by the conclusion of the agreement regarding Hebron and other important issues, reached on 15 January between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
I considered this to be an important achievement. I expressed the hope that it would pave the way for further progress towards the full
implementation of the process envisaged in the Declaration of Principles agreed in Oslo.
Regrettably, there has been a number of setbacks in the peace process since then. There have been acts of violence, which I have condemned in the strongest terms. I have appealed to the parties not to allow the actions of a radical few to derail the peace process designed for good of the many.
I also expressed deep concern that, despite appeals from the international community, the Government of Israel decided to proceed with construction at Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa. I called on the parties to do their utmost to find mutually acceptable solutions, and to proceed with the peace process.
The great concern of the international community for the future of peace in the area was manifested in two meetings of the Security Council and the General Assembly, including an emergency special session held in late April.
I sincerely hope that the parties will intensify their efforts to overcome existing obstacles to a speedy return to the peace process.
I will continue to do my utmost to mobilize the resources of the United Nations system to meet the humanitarian and development needs of the Palestinians, in support of the objective of achieving a just and lasting peace.
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