- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday told students at the University of Maryland that "gloom and defeatism" were keeping Israelis and Palestinians from making peace.
But during a speech at the College Park campus, the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize recipient avoided the topic of Iraq and U.N. Security Council's resolution calling for Iraq to dismantle its program for developing weapons of mass destruction.
"[Palestinians] are just as firmly attached to their lands as Israelis are to theirs, and just as strong in their national aspirations," Mr. Annan said to applause at the Cole Student Activities Center. "They, too, have a right to their own state, supported by the United Nations and by public opinion worldwide."
Cindy Park, a senior, said she enjoyed the speech, especially Mr. Annan's balance in addressing the different yet equally troubling struggles that Israelis and Palestinians face.
She said Mr. Annan's speech, however, should have been more focused on the prospect of U.N. countries trying to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"I was surprised he didn't mention Iraq," said Miss Park.
A university official said about 10,000 people attended the U.N. leader's Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace, a College Park lecture series named after the slain Egyptian leader.
Mr. Annan said the Israelis, wary of more attacks, wonder if Palestinians hope to eliminate their state. On the other hand, he said, Palestinians have lost faith in Israelis' desire to make peace, blaming the government for large-scale attacks on civilians and stringent security that has kept Palestinians impoverished.
"What is missing, on each side, is trust in the other and without that trust, the hope of peace becomes hard to sustain," Mr. Annan said.
Bethany Miskelly, another senior, said she felt privileged to hear directly from such a high-profile leader.
"You can watch the news and hear about what he's doing, but it's more interesting to see him in person and see what he's experiencing and what he's thinking," she said.
Mr. Annan said the international community especially the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia must help the Israelis and Palestinians develop a "road map" that could lead to a peaceful two-state solution within three years, Mr. Annan said.
"Indeed, we must help both Israelis and Palestinians to break through the barrier of which Sadat spoke: 'a barrier of suspicion, a barrier of rejection; a barrier of fear, of deception, a barrier of hallucination ,'" he said.
Tuesday will mark the 25th anniversary of Mr. Sadat's visit to Jerusalem to speak to Israeli leaders on his plan for peace between Israelis and Arabs. Extremists subsequently assassinated the Egyptian president in October 1981.
Mr. Annan was presented with an honorary doctorate in public service from the university yesterday, after giving the fifth Sadat lecture.
Inaugurated in 1997, the lecture series has featured former Israeli President Ezer Weizman, former President Jimmy Carter, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former South African President Nelson Mandela.


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