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Middle East: Annan says third party mediation is critical to peace efforts

Middle East: Annan says third party mediation is critical to peace efforts

Third party involvement is essential to mediating an end to the current cycle of deadly violence in the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

According to the report, over the past two years more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed and some 25,000 injured, while more than 600 Israelis have been killed and over 4,000 injured. “Surely we need no further reminder of the ultimate futility of the present course than the hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and tens of thousands of grieving families and friends of the victims of this conflict,” Mr. Annan writes. “The parties are on a path leading to further pain and suffering — a path that will bring neither closer to achieving its stated goals.”

“It is a matter of particular regret to me that so little remains of the mutual trust that had been so painstakingly built between the parties,” he says, calling for “regular and consistent third-party involvement and encouragement” to help find a way forward.

The Secretary-General calls particular attention to the work of the diplomatic Quartet – the UN, United States, Russian Federation and European Union – which is focused on attaining the goal of two democratic States living side by side in peace and security. While the details of the Quartet roadmap to achieve a comprehensive settlement are still being worked out, the Secretary-General says he is “very encouraged by the growing involvement of the parties and neighbouring Arab States in a direct dialogue with the Quartet.”

Mr. Annan recalls his past proposal to deploy a multinational force to help provide security for Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and to promote an environment conducive to the resumption of negotiations. “This proposal remains on the table,” he says.

The report also calls for action to address the “devastating” humanitarian conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory. While underscoring the need for a long-term solution to the conflict, the Secretary-General urges donors to fund the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is providing critical humanitarian aid.

“For its part,” he pledges, “the United Nations will continue to support the resumption of a meaningful peace process and will remain at the forefront of efforts to alleviate the severe economic and social hardships of the Palestinian people.”