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Road Map's success depends on Israelis, Palestinians staying the course - UN official

Road Map's success depends on Israelis, Palestinians staying the course - UN official

ASG Danilo Türk
The Israelis and Palestinians, along with the international community, must be prepared to stay the course on a plan to settle the Middle East crisis, however strewn with obstacles that course may be, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.

"The Road Map implementation process will not likely be easy, but its goal, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, is too important for the parties to be deterred from by early difficulties," Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk said in an open briefing to the Council on developments since 19 March.

The Road Map, a plan put forward by the diplomatic Quartet - the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - which calls for parallel responses by the Israelis and Palestinians to security, political, economic and humanitarian issues, will be presented to the parties once the Palestinian Cabinet has been confirmed, Mr. Türk noted.

He also stressed that in the face of the grim reality on the ground, with continuing terrorist attacks on the Israelis and the deepening humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the path ahead represented the only realistic hope for ending the current cycle of violence and counter-violence.

On the political front, Mr. Türk said the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Mazen, should receive the full, active cooperation of the international community as he works to curb terrorism and continue the reform process.

"We hope that Abu Mazen will be empowered to continue and extend the Palestinian reform process," Mr. Türk told the Council. "He must prove to be a leader who will provide the Palestinian people with the transparent, effective government they deserve. He must also provide the Israelis with the partner in peace that they need."

Turning to the Government of Israel, Mr. Türk said that it had an important role to play in ensuring the success of the new Palestinian Government. Crucial first steps would include facilitating the reform process and minimizing the effects of security measures on the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Removal of internal closures and lifting of curfews would be welcome developments. Such steps would empower the Palestinian Authority and Abu Mazen to take action against terrorists.

"Recent statements by Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon in support of a peace process in which he acknowledges that Israel might need to make 'painful concessions,' including the removal of some settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are to be welcomed," Mr. Türk said. "Israel's early embrace of the Road Map and active implementation of the process would seem to be an essential manifestation of the support expressed by Mr. Sharon."