BAN at Annapolis: This time, let us see it through

UNSG BAN Ki-Moon told delegates at the Annapolis conference that he was “very pleased and moved to be a part of this historic meeting”. He pledged “the full support of the United Nations family for the renewed effort”, adding that “[f]or 60 years, the Organization has provided the broad parameters for peace, first in the partition plan, and then in Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515”.

BAN’s speech, however, revealed that he has a particularly bad speechwriter.

He did not mention The Wall — despite the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the UN’s prinicipal judicial organ, the International Court of Justice — though he did refer to “the barrier, but so briefly you would have missed it if you blinked.

BAN said that “The Palestinians have been deprived of their fundamental right to self-determination for 60 years”.

He said that “Their society has been increasingly fragmented – territorially, by settlements, land expropriation and the barrier; socially and economically, by closure; and politically, between Gaza and the West Bank. They have begun to fear that the dream of statehood may slip beyond their grasp. We must reverse this growing sense of despair, and build a process that begins to change the lives of Palestinians, and secures their independence and freedom. The process must end the occupation and create an independent and viable State of Palestine, at peace with itself and its neighbours”.

BAN confirmed the phenomenon first identified in 1999 by long-time Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who said that the creation of a Palestinian state was becoming an Israeli demand, Ban said, “For its part, Israel faces genuine security challenges. The Israeli people have sought security and freedom from threat for 60 years. But this has proven elusive. Recently, they have felt anew the threat of attack, and their very right to exist has been questioned. Some have started believing that territorial withdrawal only brings new acts of terrorism. We must reverse this loss of faith, and build a process that delivers on the vital interests of Israelis: a Palestinian State that is a true partner, secure and recognized borders, and a permanent end to the conflict”…

BAN SAID THAT “success depends not on what we say today, but on what we do tomorrow. There will be a steering committee and the Quartet will have its own role, complementary to a trilateral monitoring mechanism”

So, now the Quartet will be complementary to the mechanism that will be headed by former Nato commander-in-chief, U.S. General Jim Jones?

BAN also observed that “The people of Gaza have suffered more than anyone else from conflict and poverty … Humanitarian aid is no substitute for a functioning economy”.

He called for concrete initiatives. He said that “We will also have to work politically to restore the unity of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority”. And BAN concluded, “As we re-embark together on this quest, there can be no second thoughts, no half-measures, no going back. This time, come what may, let us see it through”.

The full text of UNSG BAN’s comments to the Annapolis conference is here.

The Quartet — of which UNSG BAN is a member — issued its own statement in support of the Annapolis event: “It welcomed the commitment of the Israeli and Palestinians leaders to launch bilateral negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, and the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace. This reflects the results of months of work by the parties and by the Quartet, including the Quartet’s engagement with members of the Arab League Follow-Up Committee to expand the circle of support for peace. The Quartet welcomed the parties’ continuing efforts to fulfil their respective commitments under Phase One of the Road Map and urged the international community to provide robust support for all the parties’ efforts. The principals took note of the broad international support for the Annapolis Conference and looked forward to the December Paris Donors’ Conference to muster international financial backing for efforts to build the foundation for a viable and prosperous Palestinian State. The Quartet agreed to remain closely involved, and to that end will meet again in December, and looks forward to inviting members of the Arab League Follow-Up Committee to attend”. The Quartet statement in support of the Annapolis meeting is here.

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