Socialist International Council in Tel Aviv and Ramallah

ARF delegate delivers speech on Mid-East peace

(SI)–Tel Aviv and Ramallah were the stage for Socialist International’s Council meeting on May 23-24–with the participation of leaders and representatives from its member parties and organizations from around the world.

Representatives from the Armenia Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–included Bureau member Mario Nalbandian–along with Hagop Sevan–Manuel Hasassian–and Georgette Avakian. Nalbandian was one of the featured speakers at the May 24 session.

The Council–which convenes every six months–met in the Middle East on this occasion to underline the SI’s commitment to searching for peace in the region and encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to move forward along the path of dialogue and negotiation at a crucial juncture for the region’s future.

Under the main theme "For a Middle East in peace–with political and economic democracy: the social democratic vision," the Council meeting–hosted by the Israel Labor Party–the Israeli Yachad Party–and the Palestinian Fatah–all members of the International–held two sessions–one in Tel Aviv and the other in Ramallah.

The session in Tel Aviv opened on the morning of Monday 23 with contributions from Shimon Peres–Leader of the Labor Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel; Imad Shakur–Member of the Palestinian National Council; Yossi Beilin–Leader of the Yachad Party from Israel; and SI President Antnio Guterres. A number of leaders from Socialist International member parties participated in the debate on the main theme.

On the afternoon of the first day–the Council received a report from the Chair of the SI Committee on the Economy–Social Cohesion and the Environment–Christoph Zopel (Germany–SPD)–and the position papers ‘Financial and Economic Issues–The Bretton Woods Institutions and Global Economic Governance’ and ‘Trade and Social Rights’–prepared by the Committee–were approved–as were the following declarations: ‘Socialist International’s Second Semi-Annual Review on Democratic Governance for Sustainable Development in a Global Society'; ‘Millennium Development Goals’–and ‘World Summit on the Information Society’. A position paper–‘Reforming the United Nations for a New Global Agenda’–prepared by a special Working Group established by the last SI Congress was adopted–following a presentation by Maria Joao Rodrigues (Portugal–PS). A resolution on the establishment of a global network of parliamentarians from SI member parties–an area of work mandated to the SI Secretary General–was approved.

The President of Israel–Moshe Katsav–delivered a special address to the Council meeting and welcomed the presence of the International–acknowledging a climate of expectation concerning the latest developmen’s in the Middle East.

The afternoon session closed with a report of the Secretary General of the Socialist International–Luis Ayala–detailing the activities and the focus of attention of the organization during the last six month period.

In the evening–in Ramallah–the delegates to the Council had a special meeting with the President of the Palestinian National Authority–Mahmoud Abbas–who thanked the International for its continuing involvement in the search for peace in the Middle East.

On May 24–the session in Ramallah opened with addresses by Nabil Shaath–Deputy and Acting Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority; Abbas Zaki on behalf of Fatah; Avshalom Vilan–MK–of the Yachad Party; Colette Avital–MK–of the Israel Labour Party; and–SI President Antnio Guterres. Participants continued the discussions of the previous day in Tel Aviv on the main theme. (List of speakers–Tuesday 24 May)

At the end of the debates–a Declaration on democracy and peace in the Middle East was introduced by Thorbjorn Jagland (Norway–DNA) on behalf of the SI Middle East Committee which he chairs; it was unanimously adopted.

Finally–the Council agreed to recommend the upgrade of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan–PUK–Iraq–and the Democratic Party–DP–Serbia–to full membership in the International–and of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan –PDKI–and the Assembly of Democratic Forces–RFD–of Mauritania to consultative status. In accordance with the SI’s statutes–the Council elected George Papandreou–Leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement–Pasok–Greece; Mohamed El-Yazghi–First Secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces–USFP–Morocco–and Horacio Serpa of the Liberal Party of Colombia as Vice-Presidents of the Socialist International–to occupy positions that had become vacant since the last Congress.

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