Global perspective Human stories

Annan calls for 'concrete steps' to bring peace to the Middle East

Annan calls for 'concrete steps' to bring peace to the Middle East

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today called for intensified international efforts to bring peace to the Middle East based on the shared vision of both Israel and Palestine existing within secure borders.

"I believe that we should really be seen as taking concrete steps to achieve the objective of two States living side by side in peace and security in three years' time," Mr. Annan told reporters as he entered UN Headquarters in New York. "I think we should be seen as taking steps that will lead to a Palestinian State to convince the Palestinians that there is a prospect and hope on the horizon for them, and we should also be seen as taking steps to end terrorism and assure security for Israel."

The diplomatic Quartet - the UN, United States, Russian Federation and European Union - should "re-energize its efforts to bring peace to the region," Mr. Annan said, emphasizing the need to advance "purposefully [and] deliberately" while assuring both communities that their core issues were being tackled.

Pointing out that the international community held a collective vision for peace in the Middle East, the Secretary-General said, "Now we have to come up with concrete steps and an operational pathway to get us there."

"We have some work to do," he acknowledged. "I know that members of the Quartet share this view and we did discuss it at our last meeting, and we've tasked our envoys to do some work on this."

Violence, he emphasized, "leads nowhere," bringing nothing but "misery and despair for the two communities." He also voiced hope that the international community could bring the parties "back from the brink."

On Sunday, following deadly attacks in Israel that killed about a dozen people, the Secretary-General issued a strong personal appeal for an end to the violence and a resumption of talks leading to a lasting settlement. "One side resorts to indiscriminate terror, the other responds with retaliation that is equally devastating in its effects on ordinary people," he observed, appealing to both to refrain from further retaliation and urging each not to allow any act by the other to deflect it from the search for peace.

"I urge both to apply themselves, without further delay, to working out the details of the solution we all know must come sooner or later - the solution called for by the Security Council, of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in secure and recognized borders."

Meanwhile in Gaza on Sunday, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, also issued a statement strongly condemning the attacks, which he called "morally repugnant and a direct violation of international law." The envoy reiterated the Secretary-General's longstanding view that "the enemies of peace should not be allowed to derail efforts to reach an enduring political solution."