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Middle East conflict remains 'dangerous,' UN panel on Palestinian rights told

Middle East conflict remains 'dangerous,' UN panel on Palestinian rights told

With its continuing spiral of action and counteraction, the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis remains "extremely dangerous," Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today in a message to the opening of the annual session of a United Nations committee on Palestinian rights.

"Let us not to fall into the trap of imagining that it can not get any worse. It easily can," the Secretary-General said in a statement to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was delivered on his behalf by UN Chef de Cabinet Iqbal Riza.

Outlining the steps needed to realize the vision of a two-state solution, the Secretary-General stressed that there was broad consensus supporting the "road map" of the diplomatic Quartet - comprising the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States.

That plan, the Secretary-General said, aims to help realize the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, and is intended to achieve a settlement founded on the basis of several past agreements.

"The road map is performance-based and hope-driven, with clearly defined phases and realistic timelines and target dates," he said. "Achieving this objective will require great patience and tenacity on the part of all involved."

The Secretary-General also underscored the importance of international help and pledges so that UN agencies, including the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), can continue their efforts. He noted that UNRWA is facing an especially severe financial crisis and called on donors to contribute generously in this time of acute hardship.

"The outlines of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region are clear," the Secretary-General said. "But peace cannot be imposed on the parties. Nor can a lasting solution be found by force. It must be achieved through a political process that takes the legitimate aspirations of both peoples fully into account."