Arafat to be recalled for leading Palestinians to accept principle of coexistence with Israel — Annan

Secretary-General Kofi Annan (left) meeting with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, in Davos on January 28, 2001. (UN Photo)

Reacting to the death of President Yasser Arafat, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said President Arafat will always be remembered for having led the Palestinians, back in 1988, to accept the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

“By signing the Oslo accords in 1993 he took a giant step towards the realization of this vision,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement issued in New York. “It is tragic that he did not live to see it fulfilled.”

“Now that he has gone, both Israelis and Palestinians, and the friends of both peoples throughout the world, must make even greater efforts to bring about the peaceful realization of the Palestinian right of self-determination,” the statement said.

“Deeply moved” by the news of the Palestinian leader’s death, the Secretary-General conveyed his condolences to President Arafat’s wife Suha and his young daughter Zahwa, and to the Palestinian people.

For nearly four decades, the statement stressed, President Arafat had “expressed and symbolized in his person the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

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