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'Performance and hope' needed for Quartet plan to succeed, Annan says

'Performance and hope' needed for Quartet plan to succeed, Annan says

Following what he termed a "historic" meeting of members of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today outlined their agreed peace plan, which aims to achieve a final settlement by 2005, but cautioned that it would require both hope and action to succeed.

Addressing a press conference in New York following the meeting, Mr. Annan said Quartet members agreed that the overall plan must deal with political, economic, humanitarian and institutional dimensions, spelling out reciprocal steps to be taken by the parties at each phase. "In short, we need a process that is both performance-driven and hope-driven," he said. "Because we need both: performance and hope."

Mr. Annan noted that the Quartet had agreed to set up a mechanism to monitor the compliance of each side with performance benchmarks established as part of the three-phase implementation roadmap.

"The first phase will see Palestinian security reform, Israeli withdrawals, and support for Palestinian elections to be held in early 2003," he said, adding that work on humanitarian issues would also commence shortly. In the second phase, during 2003, "our efforts should focus on the option of creating a Palestinian State with provisional borders and based on a new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement."

In the final phase, from 2004 to mid-2005, "we envision Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status solution."

The Secretary-General stressed that both the Palestinian reform effort and political progress must include Israeli measures to improve the lives of Palestinians, namely, "to allow the resumption of economic activity and the movement of goods, people and essential services; to ease or lift curfew and closures; Israel must also return the tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority; and all Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territory must stop."

The Palestinians, he said, must work with the United States and regional partners to reform their security services and combat terrorism, while both sides should work to allow policing and law and order for the civilian population of the West Bank and Gaza.

"The Quartet remains committed to the search for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Syrian and the Lebanese-Syrian tracks," he stressed.

Asked how the parties could have a measure of hope considering past experience, Mr. Annan said that the Quartet would be steadfast in its support, "but in the end, real success will depend on the will and the actions the parties take - but we are going to stick with them and monitor performance."

To a question on why progress has been so slow, Mr. Annan explained that the issue at stake is very complex. "It is not a situation where the Quartet can come in and impose a solution," he said, noting that today's meetings had included the participation of Arab leaders as well as officials from the two sides. "This is an issue where you need to move with the parties and you need to get regional players working with you."

"Anything we are going to achieve will depend on the political will and the actions of the parties," he emphasized.