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Middle East Parties Urged To Implement Road Map

Annan Urges Middle East Parties To Implement Road Map

Given the urgent need to stem the cycle of violence in the Middle East and achieve a just and lasting settlement, the parties to the conflict must implement the Road Map plan for a two-State solution, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

In an address to the UN Palestinian rights committee, Mr. Annan said only a clear resolve by Israeli and Palestinian leaders will break the impasse and restart the peace process. "There is no substitute for the two parties sitting down and working out with each other the details of an agreement that both peoples can live with," he said.

The 2002 Road Map, which was accepted by the parties and enjoys broad international support, "remains the most practical way of achieving the aspirations of both sides," he said.

"Today, I call on both parties to take immediate and specific steps to implement the plan without preconditions," he declared.

Specifically, he urged the Palestinian Authority to take resolute action to halt terror attacks by militant groups against Israelis. At the same time, he urged the Israeli Government to halt further settlement expansion and the construction of the barrier.

Calling Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's announcement of a plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip settlements "encouraging," Mr. Annan said he looked forward to a timetable.

"An evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements should be seen as part of a broader process, an interim step that could revitalize stalled peace efforts, consistent with the Road Map," he said, calling on the international community to help the two sides out of the present deadlock.

Members of the diplomatic Quartet - the UN, United States, European Union and Russian Federation - must "try harder to bring the parties back to the negotiating table," he added.

Also addressing the session, the committee Chairman, Paul Badji of Senegal, said Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories was the major cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He stressed that peace hinged on the immediate implementation of the Road Map, relevant Security Council resolutions, the principle of the exchange of land for peace, and the initiative adopted by the League of Arab States at Beirut.

Nasser Al-Kidwa, Palestine's Permanent Observer, said Israel continued to commit war crimes and the systematic violation of human rights. The wall being constructed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, had deeply exacerbated the already grave situation. It completely undermined the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as it would prevent the emergence of a viable and independent State. He added that Israel's current attempts to formally depart from the Road Map were dangerous, and called for that plan's implementation.

At the outset of the session, delegates observed a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of yesterday's deadly bomb attacks in Madrid.

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