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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
1 September 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

AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

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**Secretary-General on killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank

I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General concerning the killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank.

“The Secretary-General condemns the killing of four Israeli citizens in the West Bank on 31 August.  He extends his condolences to the families of the victims and calls for the perpetrators of this crime to be promptly brought to justice.

This attack must be recognized for what it is:  a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations starting tomorrow.

Negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final status issues.  The Secretary-General calls upon both sides to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to realize the aspirations of both peoples.”  

We have that statement available in our office.  Also, there was a statement yesterday from Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also condemning these killings.

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**Questions and Answers

Question:  Considering the opening of the peace talks in Washington today, doesn’t Mr. Ban Ki-moon, or the Deputy Secretary-General, believe that the UN and other Quartet members should have been invited to the opening of the talks today?  

Deputy Spokesperson:  At this stage, Tony Blair is there as the representative, as the envoy of the Quartet.  The Secretary-General and the other Quartet members are available as needed, but as you know the Secretary-General is travelling today.

Question:  Considering the role of the Quartet in this process and the Quartet statement as well, wouldn’t it have been given more balance to these talks if the Quartet members were represented there?

Deputy Spokesperson:  As you know, the Quartet has already issued a statement encouraging the start of these direct talks and the Secretary-General fully concurs with the sentiments of the Quartet.

Question:  I asked yesterday about Ovadia Yosef, the rabbi in Israel’s statement.  Considering that you immediately issued a statement about the attacks in the West Bank…   

Deputy Spokesperson:  One point I’d like to mention.  I would like to read again part of the statement that we just issued concerning the killing, that that attack was recognized “as a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that are starting tomorrow”, and indeed with any attempts to undermine these negotiations, our response is that “negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final party status issues”.  And that’s what I would say.

Question:  The UN doesn’t feel that the statements of this rabbi, considering that he has 17 members in parliament, deserve a separate comment from you? 

Deputy Spokesperson:  Our comment, as [Chief Spokesperson] Martin Nesirky also made clear yesterday, whenever it comes to things that could potentially undermine the start of direct talks, our focus is, like I said before, to emphasize the idea that negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve final status issues, and we are encouraging that.

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Question:  Is the Secretary-General doing anything or is he spending any effort to bring Hamas openly at least into these direct negotiations?  How does he feel about leaving the Gaza administration out of these direct negotiations?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything beyond what we have actually said.  As you know, the Secretary-General issued a statement upon the acceptance by the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the offer of direct negotiations.  And I would just refer back to that statement.

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Question:  Does the Secretary-General intend to send a special message to the meeting in Washington on this occasion of trying to settle the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think the Secretary-General did just about two weeks ago send a message following the agreement by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to enter direct negotiations, and I would refer you back to the statement he issued at that time.  Whether we feel the need to issue any further statements, of course, we’ll issue those in due course if and when they’re needed.

Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record

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