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Annan Applauds Independent Mideast Peace Initiatives - 2003-12-01


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has applauded independent peace-making efforts in the Middle East, while condemning both Israeli and Palestinian violence. Mr. Annan's comments came during an annual U.N. event to mobilize international support for the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel.

In a speech to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Mr. Annan strove to be even-handed in his criticism.

He complained that Israeli actions, such as extra-judicial killings, expansion of settlements and the security barrier that cuts into Palestinian territory, have enhanced misery and feelings of helplessness among Palestinians. "They have undermined efforts to curb violence and fueled hatred and anger towards Israel," he said.

The secretary-general was equally critical of Palestinian suicide bombers, saying their terrorist acts are harming their cause. "These heinous acts can have no justification, and must be consistently and unreservedly condemned," he said.

Mr. Annan urged both sides to live up to previous commitments and to work to implement the "road map" to peace, which is co-sponsored by the United Nations. He also praised two independent peace initiatives, which he says have infused new hope for a political settlement of the conflict.

"I refer, in particular, to the Geneva initiative, in which Palestinians and Israelis negotiated and agreed to a detailed plan to comprehensively resolve the conflict, and to the Ayalon-Nusseibeh statement of principles," he said. "These efforts show the capacity of Palestinians and Israelis to act with reason and restraint, and to agree on terms to live side-by-side in peace."

Mr. Annan's comments were part of a day of activities marking the U.N.'s annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The day's schedule also included a General Assembly session devoted mainly to criticism of Israel.

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