Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Annan Surprises with Parting Speech

(Secretary-General Annan on Dec. 11, UN Photo)

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's final address to the Security Council is bound to raise eyebrows in the Middle East. For one, Annan scolded the Israel-bashers who have done so much to give the UN a bad name over the years:
Some may feel satisfaction at repeatedly passing General Assembly resolutions or holding conferences that condemn Israel's behavior," Annan said. "But one should also ask whether such steps bring any tangible relief or benefit to the Palestinians."

Describing decades of resolutions and a proliferation of special committees, Annan asked if this had any effect on Israel other than to strengthen the belief "that this great organization is too one-sided to be allowed a significant role in the Middle East peace process," (Ha'aretz)
More importantly, Annan seems to have dealt a blow to the rejectionists among the Palestinians and their allies:
The two-state solution - Israel and Palestine - must respect the rights of the Palestinian refugees, but only within the context of preserving the character of states in the region.
It remains to be seen what impact, if any, these parting words will have on the policy of Annan's designated successor, the South Korean Ban Ki Moon.


Noah Kaye said...

The speech really impressed me. I was disappointed to here a review of it on the BBC last night which did not mention Annan's criticism and critique of GA resolutions condemning Israel.

So to me, Annan blasted two different kinds of haters: both the Israel haters and the UN haters in pro-Israel circles. It's pretty comendable that he put his prestige on the line like that.

left, but not antizionist said...

After ten years that he was Secretary-General Anan comes around to mentioning the elephant in the room for the first time in his departing speech to the Security Council, but read what he said regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his final speech to the General Assembly which got far more media coverage.


"We might like to think of the Arab-Israeli conflict as just one regional conflict amongst many. But it is not. No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield.

As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation; and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance-halls: so long will passions everywhere be inflamed.

On one side, supporters of Israel feel that it is harshly judged, by standards that are not applied to its enemies – and too often this is true, particularly in some UN bodies.

On the other side, people are outraged by the disproportionate use of force against the Palestinians, and by Israel's continued occupation and confiscation of Arab land.

As long as the Security Council is unable to end this conflict, and the now nearly 40-year-old occupation, by bringing both sides to accept and implement its resolutions, so long will respect for the United Nations continue to decline. So long, too, will our impartiality be questioned. So long will our best efforts to resolve other conflicts be resisted, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose peoples need our help just as badly, and are entitled to it. And so long will our devoted and courageous staff, instead of being protected by the blue flag, find themselves exposed to rage and violence, provoked by policies they neither control nor support."

Oh and by the way, Anan's final speech to the Security Council, unlike his final speech to the General Assembly is nowhere to be found on the official website of the UN Secretary-General (see: http://www0.un.org/News/ossg/sg/index.shtml), so no worries that many eyebrows will be raised either in the Middle East, or at the BBC.