UN marks day of solidarity with Palestinian people

“Today, throughout the world, people hope that a new chance for peace may be around the corner,” said Mr. Annan in remarks to a solemn meeting of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. “That opportunity must not be let pass.” Noting that over the past four years, bloodshed and chaos in the Middle East continued without respite, the Secretary-General said the Palestinians have endured a “dismal existence of grinding poverty and dispossession.” “But they have not been good years for Israelis either. They too have borne great loss. They too need security,” he added. Voicing his belief that the Road Map “still embodies a path to peace,” Mr. Annan said he was hopeful that Israel’s disengagement plan would help renew peace efforts leading to the end of the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip, and paving the way for “a sovereign, democratic and contiguous Palestinian state, living side by side in peace with Israel.” He said the memory of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who died earlier this month, should serve as an inspiration to unite and strengthen the Palestinian people in their efforts to realize their national aspirations to statehood and self-determination through peaceful means. Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Permanent Observer for Palestine, read a message from Mahmoud Abbas, newly-appointed Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which stated that while the Palestinian people had experienced widespread sadness at the passing of Mr. Arafat, they and their leadership had responded to their tragic loss in a civilized, orderly manner with a smooth and peaceful transition of power. The Committee’s Chairman, Ambassador Paul Badji of Senegal, noted that although the State of Israel had been proclaimed without delay following the termination of the mandate for Palestine, the Arab State meant for the Palestinians had yet to come into existence. The Palestinian people had endured long years of warfare, expulsion and occupation, and it was President Arafat who had given them an identity that the world could no longer ignore. The Committee also heard from General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon and the Security Council President for November, Ambassador John Danforth of the United States. As part of the Day’s activities, the Committee, in cooperation with the Palestinian Mission to the UN, organized a cultural exhibit entitled “Steadfast in Palestine.” It also arranged for the screening of two films entitled “In the Name of Security” and “The Wall.”

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