U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called on Israel to relinquish Palestinian land in a speech at the University of Maryland Wednesday, calling surrender of land the best chance for peace.
Annan spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 faculty and students at the university before meeting with President Bush at the White House later in the day.
In his speech on the situation in the Middle East, Annan called Israeli security measures “draconian” and its policy of targeted assassination of militants “unacceptable.”
Annan decried the state of the Palestinian farmers living amongst Israeli settlers.
“Palestinian farmers have even been shot dead by extremist settlers intent on robbing them of their olive harvest,” Annan said.
Israel, responding to the slayings of five settlers, invaded Nablus this week with dozens of tanks and soldiers arresting 30 suspected militants, the Associated Press reported.
Annan also affirmed the rights of the Palestinians to an independent state.
“They too have a right to their own state, supported by the United Nations and by public opinion worldwide,” he said. “The only way to settle this conflict remains the solution envisioned by the United Nations Security Council – two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within security and recognized borders.”
The Secretary General’s speech, given as part of the Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace series, was notably absent mention of the growing crisis in Iraq.
Annan said the current leadership in the troubled Middle East could learn from the example of Sadat, the former President of Egypt who was assassinated by Islamic militants in 1981.
The speech was nearly 25 years after Sadat visited Jerusalem in a historic move Annan said “defined Sadat as a historical figure.”
The visit in 1977 led to the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Anwar Sadat’s widow Dr. Jehan Sadat has been a fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at Maryland since 1988. She was on hand for the ceremony, which included awarding Annan an honorary doctorate from the university.