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2 May 2002
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, May 2, 2002
MIDDLE EAST: ANNAN IS DISBANDING UN FACT-FINDING TEAM TODAY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a
to the President of the Security Council, has detailed his efforts to implement
, which welcomed his initiative to develop accurate information regarding recent events in Jenin
through a fact-finding team.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast late Wednesday afternoon briefed the Security Council on the letter, in which, he
reporters afterward, the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to disband the fact-finding team today.
Prendergast said that decision was “an acceptance of the reality that it’s not possible to do the job properly without the full cooperation of the Government of Israel.” The Secretary-General, he said, has come to his decision because “he believes that the objections that the Government of Israel has to the deployment of the mission are fundamental objections, and therefore they are most unlikely to be overcome.”
[The Secretary-General, in a
issued through his Spokesman Thursday evening, said, "As indicated in his letter to the President of the Security Council yesterday," he is today disbanding the Fact-Finding Team into recent events in the Jenin refugee camp, established pursuant to resolution 1405 (2002). "The Secretary-General has written to the Council President, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority communicating this decision. He has also written to President Ahtisaari and his Team, thanking them for the dedication, energy and time that they have given the United Nations."].
Asked to respond to concerns expressed in the Arab world about the disbanding of the team, Okabe said that the Secretary-General reached his decision only reluctantly, following the April 30 decision by Israel’s Security Cabinet that as long as Israel’s terms had not been met, it would be not be possible to begin the clarification process.
The Secretary-General feels strongly that an accurate, credible, thorough and balanced report cannot be prepared in the absence of full cooperation from both the Government of Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority, she reiterated.
Asked to comment on remarks by Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Lancry about six points of clarification Israel had sought, the Spokeswoman later said that the United Nations has not received any formal clarification of Israel’s “terms.”
SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS RESPONSE ON FACT-FINDING TEAM
After receiving the Secretary-General’s letter, the Security Council went into lengthy consultations on a response on Wednesday night. Two drafts of resolutions were put on the table: one by Syria and Tunisia, and one by the United States. Neither of the resolutions came to a vote.
The consultations went on until about 2 a.m. Thursday when Security Council President Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore suggested that the meeting be adjourned and reconvened at 10:30 this morning to discussion a letter, drafted by the Presidency, from the Council to the Secretary General.
The Council remained undecided on how to respond to the Secretary-General's letter during its morning consultations, and will continue to discuss the matter this afternoon, following consultations on Cyprus.
In response to questions, the Spokeswoman declined to speculate on the contents of the final version of the letter.
ANNAN TRAVELS TO WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR “QUARTET” MEETING
The Secretary-General is in Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting, which begins at 3:00 p.m. in the U.S. State Department, of the “Quartet” dealing with
issues – a group that will comprise the Secretary-General, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, High Representative for European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Also attending the meeting will be Foreign Minister Josep Pique of Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
At about 4:30 p.m., the Quartet meeting to discuss the Middle East will be followed by a joint press conference among the principal participants.
Following the press conference, the Secretary-General will return to New York.
UNRWA WARNS OF LOOMING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN GAZA
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA
) warned today that a humanitarian crisis is looming in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli authorities continue to block the entry of food, medicine and fuel and refuse to relax internal restrictions on the movements of all goods and personnel.
Despite repeated letters of protest from UNRWA to the Israeli authorities, Israel has continued to cite security reasons, and there has been scant improvement in the situation.
The Agency says its humanitarian operations are being severely hampered in Gaza, and it may not be able to provide the food packages for this month for 127 thousand of the most needy families. In addition, Gaza residents fearing a major Israeli incursion have begun to stockpile basic foodstuffs and medicines, pushing prices of those goods up further.
Also, the UN Mine Action Service has sent a mission to help clear unexploded ordnance in Jenin