Israel mourns late UN chief who ‘opposed attempts to delegitimize Jewish state’

PM, Foreign Ministry offer condolences following death of Kofi Annan, joining countries from around world in commemorating Nobel peace prize laureate and celebrated diplomat

File photo of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, left, who won the Nobel Prize in 2001, with late Israeli president Shimon Peres, 1994 Nobel Prize winner, during a conference in Petra, Jordan, 15 May 2007. (AFP/Khalil MAZRAAWI)
File photo of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, left, who won the Nobel Prize in 2001, with late Israeli president Shimon Peres, 1994 Nobel Prize winner, during a conference in Petra, Jordan, 15 May 2007. (AFP/Khalil MAZRAAWI)

Israel joined countries around the world in an outpouring of condolences  on Saturday after the death of former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan.

“We will remember him as having been very active in the international arena and as someone who fought anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. We send our condolences to his widow and his family,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

The Foreign Ministry said Annan devoted his life to world peace.

“During his tenure he opposed the attempts to delegitimize Israel and resolutely fought against Holocaust denial,” the ministry added in a statement.

Annan was a firm supporter of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and was involved in peace negotiations between the sides throughout his tenure between 1997-2006.

Last year he told the Associated Press he did not believe peace was possible under the two sides’ current leadership.

United States

“Kofi Annan devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful place through his compassion and dedication to service,” the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter.

“He worked tirelessly to unite us and never stopped fighting for the dignity of every person.”

Former president Barack Obama said Annan “embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others.”

“His integrity, persistence, optimism, and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations. Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world, and made time to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003 file photo UN Secretary General Kofi Annan greets President George W. Bush at UN headquarters before the start of the 58th UN General Assembly. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite, File)


“A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter.

Former prime minister Tony Blair said his “good friend” was a “great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed.”


“I sincerely admired his wisdom and courage, his ability to make informed decisions even in the most complex, critical situations. His memory will live forever in the hearts of Russians,” said President Vladimir Putin.


Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the “exceptional statesman in the service of the global community.”

Annan “inspired me and many others with his ideas, his firm convictions and his charisma.”

“We will never forget his calm and resolute approach, nor the strength of his fighting spirit,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa praised Annan as a “great leader and diplomat extraordinaire” who had advanced the African agenda within the UN and had “flown the flag for peace” around the world.

Retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu described Annan as “an outstanding human being who represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness, integrity and distinction.”


“A rare breed of diplomat; soft spoken but unshakeably firm,” tweeted Nelson Chamisa, the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe — where Annan visited days before the July election.

“He had great love for world peace & democracy. A believer in Zimbabwe & its people. Go well son of Africa, Champion of the world.

A visitor to the United Nations pauses in front of the portrait of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan at UN headquarters, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


Both key figures in the deadly turmoil that followed Kenya’s 2008 election paid tribute to Annan, who helped mediate an end to the violence.

Former president Mwai Kibaki said Annan “will be remembered for mediating for the return of peace in Kenya.”

Opposition leader Raila Odinga hailed “what became known as ‘the Annan Doctrine’ in which he made it clear that the need to respect sovereignty cannot be used as a shield by governments to brutalise their own citizens and that the international community has a right to intervene.”


President Nana Akufo-Addo declared a week of mourning for “one of our greatest compatriots.

“He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena.

“He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity.”

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