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People's Views on Middle East Peace Count Too

Views Of Ordinary People On Middle East Peace Count Too, Senior UN Official Says

When it comes to bringing about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, the views and actions of ordinary people counted, a senior United Nations official said at the conclusion of a recent international seminar on how civil society and the media can promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Summing up two days of intense discussions on the role of civil society in the Middle East peace process, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor said while political leaders might make policy decisions, those decisions must have the respect and endorsement of ordinary people if the desired outcomes were to be achieved in the long term.

Mr. Tharoor, who moderated the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East held in Beijing, noted that participants had talked about how best to inform the world at-large and the people of the region, through the media, about what was happening.

Discussion had also focused on how civil society initiatives, such as the Geneva Accords and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh Initiative, had challenged the accepted political wisdom by addressing thorny issues that could not be avoided if a just and lasting peace were to be attained, he said.

Clearly, Mr. Tharoor said, there was some way to go before the question of Palestine would be answered. Those at the United Nations believed that the Road Map would serve as a sound basis for that journey, but its implementation would require the political will, not only of political leaders, but also of the people.

In addition, civil society had much to contribute in that regard, he said, adding that he hoped the press would use its creativity and professional skills to contribute to peace in that long-embattled region, by giving the world information it needed, as well as hope.

The seminar, which ended yesterday, was the 12th since 1991 in a series organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in response to General Assembly resolutions. The series discusses how civil society and the media can promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and the overall peace process, as well as the current state of the Road Map peace plan.

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