At UN news conference, Annan hails Security Council resolution on Middle East
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today hailed last night's adoption by the Security Council of a resolution that affirmed a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, "live side by side within secure and recognized borders."
"I am convinced this is a vision shared by the great majority of people on both sides, and indeed by the whole world," he told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York. "I strongly urge both sides and their leaders to heed the Council's demand for an immediate cessation of violence, and its call on them to cooperate in implementing the Tenet and Mitchell plans, with the aim of resuming negotiations on [a] political settlement."
Responding to questions on the Middle East, the Secretary-General said he had been working with the 'quartet:' - UN, United States, European Union and Russian Federation - while maintaining contact with leaders in the region. "It is quite clear that the two parties, left to themselves, cannot resolve this issue, given what we've all witnessed over the [past] 17 months or so, and therefore a third party involvement is required."
"The main thing is that we all put our weight behind it and get the parties to settle," he stressed, noting that the collective will of the international community could influence the situation.
The Council's resolution, with the strong support of the US, would "send a powerful message," the Secretary-General said. "When you have the kind of tragedy that is taking place in the Middle East, for an important body of third parties to step in and say, 'Look, you'd better stop the killing, it has gone far enough, you should stop hostilities and talk' is important."
The Secretary-General was also asked about his characterization, in a speech to the Council on Tuesday, of Israel’s occupation as “illegal.” He noted that both the Security Council and the General Assembly had on various occasions declared aspects of the occupation as illegal. “Acts by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories have also been described as illegal… such as the establishment of settlements, the imposition of Israeli laws, and jurisdiction and administration over East Jerusalem, and some of the events we have witnessed recently.”
Concerning his personal response to the conflict, he said he was "distressed" by current developments. "I don't think one can watch that tragedy, which we all saw on our television, and not be moved to try and do whatever you can to help the situation."