Deadly spiral of violence must stop, Annan tells UN Palestinian rights panel

Deadly spiral of violence must stop, Annan tells UN Palestinian rights panel

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
With the Middle East peace process mired in an “extremely trying period” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the Israelis and Palestinians to once again recommit themselves to returning to the bargaining table.

In a statement this morning to a UN committee dealing with Palestinian issues, the Secretary-General said the Tenet understandings and the Mitchell recommendations established clear and specific obligations for both sides and provided the basis for restoring the peace process, which had lost momentum and was badly in need of an infusion of energy and conviction.

The Tenet understandings refer to the Security Plan presented by the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, and the Mitchell recommendations relate to a report submitted by a committee chaired by former US Senator George Mitchell.

“Their scrupulous implementation would re-establish the necessary security conditions as well as the necessary political commitments,” Mr. Annan said at the opening in New York of the 2002 session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The committee was set up in 1975 to recommend to the UN General Assembly a plan for Palestinian self-determination and eventual statehood.

The Secretary-General said his Special Coordinator for the peace process, Terje Roed-Larsen, has been actively involved in repeated efforts to defuse the present crisis, restart the peace process and coordinate donor assistance to the Palestinian people.

In particular, together with the representatives of the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union – the so-called “Quartet” – and other partners, Mr. Roed-Larsen “has been working with the parties on the immediate task of achieving a ceasefire and reactivating the peace process,” Mr. Annan said.

Describing conditions on the ground, the Secretary-General said that in the past 16 months, the situation has deteriorated to unprecedented levels, with the death toll exceeding 1,100 and the number of injured on both sides surpassing 20,000, the overwhelming majority Palestinians.

With daily violence, wide-scale destruction and repeated closures, emergency humanitarian relief for the Palestinian people has become a top priority, Mr. Annan said. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and many other UN agencies continue to provide emergency assistance and help to improve, or alleviate, the living conditions of millions of Palestinian families as the UN Relief and Works Agency continued to respond to the essential day-to-day needs of nearly 1.5 million registered refugees throughout the region.

“We have seen too much suffering,” Mr. Annan said. “The deadly spiral of violence must stop. The parties should move away from confrontation and recriminations, and return to the negotiating table.”