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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
13 December 2010



Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is from today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Monday, 13 December 2010

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Questions and Answers

Question:  I just want to ask whether there is any Quartet meeting upcoming, following the developments concerning the American position.

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.

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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.

Spokesperson:  Well, as you well know, Masood, the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for the release of those held in Israeli prisons or detention, meaning Palestinians, as you mentioned.  But he has also consistently called for the release of Corporal [Gilad] Shalit.  He has done both publicly and repeatedly.  Okay?

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.


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