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International community must help Israel, Palestinians seal peace – Annan

International community must help Israel, Palestinians seal peace – Annan

Kofi Annan
Despite positive new moves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation remains fragile and the international community must encourage the parties to match their words with action on the ground and help ease the Palestinians’ economic plight, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

“I urge all Member States to help the parties meet their commitments and strengthen their cooperation, so that the opportunity for progress toward peace now at hand is firmly grasped,” he told the 2005 session of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Mr. Annan noted recent positive developments such as the election of new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who opposes violence and is committed to the so-call Road Map peace plan, the recent restoration of security coordination between the two sides, and tomorrow’s summit in Egypt between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mr. Abbas.

The Road Map is the plan drawn up by the diplomatic Quartet – the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – calling for parallel and reciprocal steps by both sides leading to two States living in peace by the end of 2005.

Mr. Annan also noted Mr. Abbas’ commitment to security and democratic reform as well as Mr. Sharon’s disengagement plan for Israel settlements from Gaza and part of the occupied West Bank, calling early implementation of this withdrawal in coordination with the Palestinian leadership an important step in fulfilling the Road Map.

The Palestinians’ economic plight also demanded action, he said. “Alleviating their suffering and providing economic opportunity is a human imperative and an important contribution to peace,” he added, pledging continued efforts by UN agencies to help hundreds of thousands of desperately needy Palestinians and appealing for “the strong and sustained support of donors.”