Press Releases

    SG/SM/8168
    20 March 2002

    SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE TO OBSERVANCE BY ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN FAMILIES, SAYS EVENT SHOULD SPUR ALL TO HELP END "THIS LONG SEASON OF TEARS"

    NEW YORK, 19 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered on his behalf by Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to the observance by the "Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace" in New York on 19 March:

    This immensely poignant sea of coffins attests, better than any words, to the human cost of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Grief for lost loved ones has become the prevailing mood, funerals as frequent as trips to the market, and fear of sudden death the cloud that darkens the eyes of everyone, even the youngest boy or girl.

    We owe the participating families our admiration for this solemn display. It takes great courage to speak of reconciliation when talk of despair, revenge and retribution fills the air. It takes great humanity to recognize the pain we share with others who are most often painted as adversaries. It is inspiring to know that Palestinians and Israelis can -- indeed they must -- turn their heartache into hope, their common pain into mutual understanding.

    I hope that both sides will find the courage, in the days ahead, to step back from the abyss, allow themselves to see a different future, return to the negotiating table, and begin the necessary and long overdue work of building peace.

    The sight of these coffins brings no solace, and perhaps fresh sorrow, to the families of the victims. But the symbolism and the loss they represent should bring wisdom to the two communities and their leaders, and spur the rest of us to do all we can to bring an end, once and for all, to this long season of tears.

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