Gaza Pull-Out Could Spur Peace Process - Annan
If Properly Managed, Gaza Pull-Out Could Spur Peace Process, Annan Says
Under proper conditions, Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza could spur greater stability in the region, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a press conference in New York today.
"If it is done in the context of the Road Map and it is a total withdrawal from Gaza, to be followed by similar steps in the West Bank, it could re-energize the peace process," he said.
"The international community should be prepared to work with both parties to manage the withdrawal in order to avoid a situation where the withdrawal leads to even further chaos," he cautioned.
Responding to press questions, the Secretary-General emphasized the work of the diplomatic Quartet, which comprises the UN, United States, European Union and Russian Federation, and is the sponsor of the Road Map peace plan, which calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two States living side-by-side in peace by 2005.
"We as the Quartet are working together to try and deal with the situation," he said, stressing that the group functions as a team. "We need to get everybody on board for us to be able to move in the direction that we have to."
Asked about the need for urgent action to stop Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes, Mr. Annan voiced doubt about an immediate intervention. "That is going to take the kind of action and resources and confrontation that, quite frankly, today I don't see anybody in the international community willing to take," he said.
In the meantime, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees UNRWA and other agencies on the ground "are doing as much as they can to give assistance and support" to the Palestinians, he pointed out.
He added that he had
personally appealed to the Israeli Government to "be careful
not to harm the innocent."