Questions and Answers
Spokesperson: Well, as I said last week, the Secretary-General has made clear that he looks forward to discussing the Middle East peace process and recent developments in a Quartet format. But certainly no indication of a date at this point. Once we have something, I would let you know. I will also check with our colleagues in Jerusalem to see whether they have anything on that. Yes, Masood?
Question: A follow up on Khaled’s question. So, on this freeze, the certain freeze which the Secretary-General spoke with Ehud Barak and so forth, there is no progress at all on that? And what about in Gaza — the crossings that have been there? Is there an understanding between the Israeli Government at all to allow more shipments coming in now?
Spokesperson: Well, a number of things. One is that last week during the conversation with the Defence Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, the Secretary-General did say that there had been a positive development, which was that exports were now being allowed out. And this is something that is to be welcomed. In addition, the Secretary-General made clear that access still needs to be improved because it is a two-way street; it’s not just exports that need to come out, but for goods and people to be allowed to move in both directions. So, that’s still a work in progress, and certainly something that the Secretary-General feels quite strongly about. There needs to be improved access.
As for the question of settlements, I think the Secretary-General’s view on this has been stated many times. It’s as reflected by the Quartet; namely that really, it’s for Israel to fulfil its Road Map obligations to freeze all settlement activity. But what the Secretary-General has also said is that he believes it is more important than ever to promote a negotiated end-game for a two-State solution. And this is, as I say, something that he would look forward to seeing discussed in a Quartet format in the days to come.
Question: No, I just want to know, since this issue of Palestinian and the settlers and so forth is in focus these days, but there seems to be a total apathy towards the about 9,000 or so Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. And once in a while the Secretary-General will appeal. When Mr. Ehud Barak came in last week, he and the Secretary-General discussed the imprisonment of one Israeli soldier, but they did not discuss that, when or where, when Israel will release these 9,000 Palestinian prisoners languishing in its jails.
Question: In the spirit of the good will of the New Year, will he again appeal to the Israelis to release some prisoners at least?
Spokesperson: Well, I did it just then. Okay, so, all right, have a good afternoon.