United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the "Geneva Accord" drafted by prominent Israelis and Palestinians and giving detailed steps to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Such private initiatives, while not a substitute for official diplomatic negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, deserve praise and encouragement as courageous attempts to break the stalemate on both sides and to generate the popular support needed for peace in the Middle East," said a statement issued by a spokesman for Mr. Annan.
The Accord was consistent and compatible with the Road Map to peace drawn up and supported by the diplomatic Quartet - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation, it added.
"It is now of paramount importance that the parties start implementing the Road Map provisions without delay," the statement said.
The Geneva Accord, which urges cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians on many levels, was spearheaded by Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo accords, on the Israeli side and former minister Yasser Abed Rabbo for the Palestinians.
Last Tuesday Mr. Annan met retired Israeli Admiral Ami Ayalon and the president of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh, of the "People's Voice Initiative," another unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
According to the People's Voice web site, some 104,000 Israelis and 60,000 Palestinians have signed up as supporters of the plan, which calls for a two-State solution, as well as an end to the Palestinian right of return to lands within the state of Israel.