Open Letter to Kofi Annan

Mr. Kofi Annan
UN Secretary-General
c/o UNSCO, Jerusalem

14th March, 2005

Dear Secretary-General Annan,

We welcome you to Israel-Palestine. Your interviews in the Israeli media suggest you are attempting to address negative attitudes towards the United Nations prevalent among many Israelis - an important goal, whose achievement may facilitate a more effective UN role as part of the international “Quartet” charged with promoting an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Your decision to attend the ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem is evidently part of that effort, and a renewed affirmation of the UN’s determination to oppose any manifestation of racial prejudice and persecution, of which the extermination of six million European Jews is a particularly horrific and terrible example.

Nevertheless, your visit takes place at a particularly sensitive time, when every action has most serious long-term ramifications. Precisely because of the importance of your visit here, the choice to include certain sites on your itinerary and exclude others is crucial. As you told Israeli TV recently, the Gaza Disengagement Plan propounded by PM Sharon could be a positive step - provided it is a step in the implementation of the “Road Map,” whose ultimate goal is viable peace, a complete end to the Occupation and the creation of a viable Palestine.

Unfortunately, there is no sign that Ariel Sharon regards things that way; there are many signs to the contrary: not only explicit statements by Sharon and his aides expressing a clear intention to hold on to the bulk of the West Bank lands, but also unilateral acts on the ground intended to grab Palestinian territory and effectively annex it to Israel.

In particular, we wish to stress continuing construction of the so-called “Separation Wall.” All across the West Bank, entire communities are being cordoned off, many losing their land: such villages as Wallajeh, Nuaman, Jayyous, Ras Tira, Azzun, Marda, Nazlat Issa, Wadi Fukin, Beit Souriq and many others. Palestinian towns, especially around Jerusalem (e.g. Abu Dis, Bethlehem and A-Ram) are being cut down the middle or surrounded and made into isolated enclaves, with a massive dislocation of trade, education, health services, access to religious sites and every facet of normal daily life.

A visitor to the Wall at Abu Dis can see schoolchildren climbing through gaps in the Wall (often harassed by Border Police), men climbing it to find work so they can feed their families, women with babies in their arms, even the sick and the elderly having to climb in order to get to the only hospital in the region. Elsewhere, in such villages as Beit Surik, Bila’in, Budrus and many others where the Wall is being erected, visitors can observe the Israeli armed forces daily using tear gas, “rubber” bullets and even live ammunition against non-violent villagers protesting the take-over of their land - and also against Israeli and international peace activists who share that protest. At Jayyous village, where the Wall was erected in 2003, one can see settlers busily creating a new settlement on land to which the Palestinian owners are denied access - in the so-called “Seam Zone.” This political border (the real intention of the Wall) is creating conditions whereby settlements thrive and expand while Palestinians are fearful of being forced into transfer: a form of ethnic cleansing.

Your visit to Jerusalem, passing within a short distance of where all this takes place, without stopping to acknowledge it, will be construed as tacit acquiescence by you and the institution you head - tacit acquiescence in a brutal practice for which the security of Israelis is the pretext rather than the true reason; security can only be reached by a political solution and the Wall actually hampers rather than helps reach such a solution.

We need hardly remind you that the creation of this Wall was strongly condemned by the overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly, that its disastrous humanitarian consequences have been elaborated in great detail by a UN Rapporteur and that its continuing creation is in flagrant defiance of the International Court at the Hague, the body empowered by the international community to interpret International Law. We are sure it is not your intention to approve - explicitly or tacitly - such phenomena. Nevertheless, that is what you would be doing in practice by failing to include the Wall on the itinerary of your visit. Therefore, we - Israeli and Palestinian and international peace activists - call upon you to observe first-hand the Wall and its disastrous humanitarian effects, which will have such a negative impact on peace making and the future viability of Palestine. We also eagerly await institution of a Register of Damages caused by the Wall, and the institution of a system of compensation for loss of income, education, freedom of movement, land and homes, as called for by the ICJ Advisory Opinion and UN General Assembly.

When in the past the world has stayed silent, atrocities have been committed; your visit to Yad Vashem underlines that principle. When, on occasion, the United Nations and the world community have delayed in response to tragedy, further tragedy has been allowed to happen. Mr. Annan, as citizens of the world we call upon you to take the necessary measures so that the unnecessary, wanton tragedy in this part of the world will cease, the Wall and settlements be dismantled, justice will be seen to be done, UN Resolutions enforced and viable peace achieved here for the long-term benefit of all.


Jody Williams, Fredericksburg VA, USA, Nobel Peace Laureate, The Landmines Campaign

Angie Zelter, Cromer UK, Alternative Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder of International Womens Peace Service

Uri Avnery, Tel Aviv, Alternative Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder of Gush Shalom

Ambassador Carleton Coon, Washington, DC

Gush Shalom - Peace Bloc, Israel

Coalition of Woman for Peace, Israel

Ada Ravon, Adv., Tel Aviv, Israel

Adam Keller, Gush Shalom, Tel Aviv, Israel

Adi Dagan, Tel Aviv, Israel (Coalition of Women for Peace)

Adv. Ghiath Nassir, East Jerusalem

Adv. Mohammed Dahleh, East Jerusalem

Aharon Shabtai, Tel Aviv, Israel

Alexandre Zimmermann, Leiden, Netherlands

Alix K. Weizmann, Israel

Amira Katz, Dept. of East Asian Studies, Hebrew University, J”m

Amy Baron, Boston, MA, USA

Andre Rosenthal, Jerusalem

Andrew Harvey, Birmingham, UK

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Israeli Cttee. Against House Demolitions, Jerusalem

Angus Geddes, Havant, UK

Anne Manning, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Anne Martin, Commitment for Life, United Reformed Church, UK

Arash Alaei, Director, NRITLD & Pars Curative Researcher, Institute for HIV/IDU/STI prevention and care

Bassem Khader, Chappaqua, New York

Beate Zilversmidt, Gush Shalom, Tel Aviv, Israel

Bilha Golan, Beit She’arim, Israel

Carmel (Charlie) Attard, Engadine, Australia

Ceylon Mooney, Wheels of Justice/Voices in the Wilderness Memphis

Charles Shamas, Jerusalem

Chris Leadbeter, Ashford, Kent, UK

Daniel Bugel-Shunra, Port Townsend, WA, USA

David Airey, Arlington, MA, USA

David Bloom, Jews Against the Occupation, New York, NY

Dhakiyya Elli Anders-Gomm, Saffron Walden, UK

Donald Bustany, Los Angeles, USA

Doris Wagner, Corrales, New Mexico, USA

Dorothee Rautenauer, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Dr. Alla Shainskaya, Rehovot, Israel

Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University

Dr. Hala Espanioly, Upper Nazareth, Israel

Dr. Janina Altman, Haifa, Israel

Dr. Kees Wagtendonk, Amstelveen, The Netherlands

Dr. Meir Margalit, Israeli Cttee. Against House Demolitions, Jerusalem

Dr. Nina Mayorek, Jerusalem

Dr. Snait Gissis, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Uri Davis, Sakhnin, Israel

Dr. Yehiam Soreq, Herzliya, Israel

Edna Primoratz, Jerusalem

Elisabeth Sherif, Santa Fe, NM, USA

Elizabeth Freund, Jerusalem

Enrique Ferro, Brussels, Belgium

Eva Jablonka, Jerusalem

Gail Kent, Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Gail Murphy, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Washington, USA

Gila Svirsky, Coalition of Women for Peace, Jerusalem

Greta Berlin, Los Angeles Women in Black

Hagar Garti, Tel Aviv, Israel

Hess Moontasir, London, UK

Huseyin Oktay, Istanbul, Turkey

Ilan Cohen, Conegliano, Italy

Jacob Katriel, , Professor Emeritus, Technion, Haifa, Israel

Jake Terpstra, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Jan de Jong, Abu Tor, Jerusalem

Jimmy Johnson, Jerusalem and Chicago, USA

Joe Mowrey, Veterans for Peace Associate, Santa Fe, NM, USA

Joyce Livingstone, Israel

Kamiar Alaei, Director, NRITLD & Pars Curative Researcher

Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance, Albuquerque, NM

Kathleen Christison, Santa Fe, NM, USA

Khaled Duzdar, Co-Director, IPCRI: Israel/Palestine Center for Research
& Information

Leila Mosenson, Occupied Tel Aviv, Jerusalem & Territories

Lev Grinberg, Jerusalem

Lyn Adamson, Toronto, Canada

Marie Moser, Los Angeles (with Women in Black, Los Angeles)

Mark Elf, Jews Sans Frontieres

Marlene Newesri, New York, USA

Mary Lou Leiser Smith , Coord., Coalition for Peace with Justice, NC USA

Matityaho Shemoelof, Haifa, Israel

Menucha Moravitz, Ramat Gan, Israel (MachsomWatch)

Micah Leshem, Ph.D., Psychology Dept., Haifa University, Haifa, Israel

Michael Kent, Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Micky Fischer, Israel

Mimi Adam, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Miriam M. Reik, New York, USA

Molly Malekar, Director, Bat Shalom, Jerusalem

Nim Sothea, Bangkok, Thailand

Nomi Shir, Omer, Israel

Nurit Steinfeld, Jerusalem

Otniel E. Dror, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Paula Abrams-Hourani, Vienna, Austria

Paula Canarutto, Italy

Penelope Slygh Lichtenecker, Vienna, Austria

Pnina Feiler, Kibbutz Yad Hanna, Israel

Pnina Firestone, Jerusalem

Prof. Aharon Eviatar, Tel Aviv, Israel

Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, Hebrew Univ., Dept. Sociology & Anthropology

Prof. Bronislaw Wajnryb, Haifa Technion, Israel

Prof. Colman Altman, Haifa, Israel

Prof. Haleh Afshar, York University, UK

Prof. Igor Primoratz, Jerusalem

Prof. Jeff Halper, Israeli Cttee. Against House Demolitions, Jerusalem

Prof. Meir Gal, CUNY and NYU, USA

Prof. Tanya Reinhart, Tel Aviv, Israel

Prof. Victoria Buch, Jerusalem

Rama Ishaq, Jordan

Rayna Moss, Jaffa, Israel

Renee Bowyer, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Richard Ward, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Riva Bachrach, Israel

Roman Vater, Tel Aviv, Israel

Ronit Chacham, Jerusalem

Sami Abuhamdeh, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Shakhar Rahav, Albany, CA, USA

Smadar Carmon, Toronto, Canada

Sophie vom Scheidt, Berlin, Germany

Tamar Yaron, Kibbutz Hazorea, Israel and Canada

Taner Zorbay, Ankara, Turkey

Tanya Leadbeter, Brighton, Sussex, UK

Tarek Ibrahim, Adv., Co-ordinator, Arab Assoc. for Human Rts., Nazareth

Terry Boullata, Abu Dis, Palestine

Uri Ayalon, Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Veronika Cohen, Jerusalem

William Christison, Santa Fe, NM, USA

Yaacov Rosenberg, Jerusalem

Yehudith Harel, Herzlia, Israel

Yonathan (Jon) Anson, Beer Sheva, Israel

Yosefa Sartiel, MD, Tel Aviv, Israel

Yvonne Deutsch, Jerusalem