U.N. Secretary-General Addresses Arab Summit in Amman

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended and addressed the Arab Summit held recently in Amman, Jordan. The Summit, which convened from 27 to 28 March 2001, was the first one of the League of Arab States held in 11 years and brought together leaders of the 22 Arab countries of the League, including 15 Heads of State, including President Yasser Arafat.

It was the first time that the Secretary-General, who participated in the Summit as an observer, attended an Arab Summit. The statement he delivered was concise, yet strong. In his statement, Mr. Annan basically focused on the crisis situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as well as the situation in Iraq. The following are a few excerpts from the Secretary-General’s statement, which was delivered on the first day of the Summit:

"The current cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis has seen hundreds killed and thousands wounded, the great majority of them Palestinians. Poverty and unemployment have skyrocketed. Blockades and closures have paralyzed the Palestinian economy, isolated the West Bank and Gaza, and prevented the delivery of medicine, food and fuel. Collective punishment has cast a pall of anger and despair over the already-tense occupied territories."

"…The international community and the Arab world have every right to criticize Israel for its continued occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory, and for its excessively harsh response to the intifada. But these points could be made more effectively if many Israelis did not believe that their existence was under threat…"

"So I again urge both sides to return to the path of peace. There is no solution to be found in violence, and no sense in postponing the day when the parties return to the table. Now more than ever, what we need is movement towards an agreement that responds both to the legitimate desire of the Palestinians for national independence, and to the legitimate claims of the Israelis to recognition and security - a comprehensive, just and lasting agreement on the basis set out so long ago in Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and on the principle of land for peace."