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Middle East: Time to 'act decisively,' Annan tells Security Council

Middle East: Time to 'act decisively,' Annan tells Security Council

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Briefing a private meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said the region continued to be “dangerously unstable” and warned that in the absence of a sustained political process, events would continue to be driven by those opposed to peace.

According to the text of his remarks made public after the briefing, the Secretary-General said that a lasting solution to the conflict rests on the Council's own resolutions, including Resolution 242, which embodies the principle of land for peace, and Resolution 1397, which envisages two States – Israel and Palestine – living in peace side-by-side.

It is clear, the Secretary-General said, that there will be no settlement in the absence of real security guarantees for Israel and, to that end, the Palestinian Authority must live up to its obligations. The social and economic plight of the Palestinians people is also an obstacle to achieving lasting peace and security, he added.

“We do not have time to waste,” the Secretary-General said. “We need to act decisively, and act soon to tackle the fundamental issues – and to solve them.”

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Mr. Annan repeated his call for resolute action to comprehensively address the fundamental concerns of the two sides. “You have to give both parties a sense that you are determined and moving ahead to tackle the issues, and of course security is extremely important for the Israelis, but for the Palestinians, the end of the occupation is essential – that is also important,” he said.

The meeting was presided over by Farouk al-Shara, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Syria, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency. Mr. Annan’s briefing was followed by a statement by Foreign Minister al-Shara, with all other Council members scheduled to take part.

Also today, the Council was scheduled to hold a meeting chaired by Mexico on the situation between India and Pakistan. The meeting is being convened under the “Arria formula,” which allows members of the Council to gather instead of holding a meeting of the Council itself. This allows Council members to hear the views of non-Council members, such as representatives of non-State parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in an informal and confidential setting.