Kofi Annan: “Israel’s separation wall ‘obstacle’ to two-state solution”

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed deep disquiet today by the Government of Israel’s decisions to continue construction of a separation wall on the West Bank and build 600 new houses in the area, a UN spokesman said.

Referring to a statement issued on 26 September by the diplomatic Quartet - the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russian Federation - calling on both Israelis and Palestinians to address each other’s core concerns, spokesman Fred Eckhard said the Secretary-General “views both the security wall and settlements in the West Bank built on Palestinian land as serious obstacles to the achievement of a two-State solution.”

“Moreover, the wall continues to cause great hardship to thousands of Palestinian families,” Mr. Eckhard added.

The Secretary-General has repeatedly said “settlements are a clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and also contradict Israel’s commitments under the Quartet’s Road Map” peace plan, the spokesman said.

The 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the wartime treatment of civilians forbids an occupying power to resettle its own civilians on territory under its military control. Meanwhile, the Road Map calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps by Israel and the Palestinians leading to two states living side by side in peace by 2005.