Israel and Palestinians cannot afford to wait for the other to move

In a message to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is observed tomorrow, Mr. Annan said there is hope that the two Prime Ministers may meet soon and a ceasefire could be established.“These tender shoots must be nourished. At the same time, the parties must be judged not by their stated intentions but by their actions on the ground,” he said.The Secretary-General said recent civil society efforts for peace such as the so-called Geneva Initiative and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh statement of principles “show the capacity of Palestinians and Israelis to act with reason and restraint, and to agree on terms to live side-by-side in peace.”Mr. Annan said the international community “needs to be prepared to take bold action” to advance the peace process, and he welcomed the Security Council’s recent endorsement of the Road Map for peace supported by the Quartet (the European Union, the Russian Federation, the UN and the United States.)The Secretary-General said great efforts are also required to tackle the humanitarian and economic needs of the Palestinians, whose hardships have increased sharply since September 2000, when the current round of problems first flared.He reiterated that Palestinians remain stateless and oppressed, and said Israeli actions such as extra-judicial killings, the demolition of houses and the continued expansion of settlements have only enhanced the misery of the Palestinians. But he added that Palestinian suicide bombings have killed innocent Israeli civilians and “can have no justification.”Mr. Annan said a political process resulting in a lasting settlement based on two states living side-by-side in peace remains the only solution.“Let us also remember that the parties hurt their own cause by harming the other or by waiting for the other to act first. And let us resolve not to rest until the Palestinian people finally obtain what is rightfully theirs – the exercise of their inalienable rights in a sovereign and independent State of Palestine.”

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