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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
16 September 2009

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Question: Michèle, question one is that yesterday after Mr. Goldstone, during Mr. Goldstone’s press conference…[inaudible]…one of the reasons that the Israelis is holding back in opening the Gaza crossings and so forth to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians over there is that they had one soldier being held by the Palestinians, Gilad Shalit, and in the same time, whilst there are about eight-and-a- half thousand Palestinians in jails. So have any talks been initiated in order to ask Israel to open up this Gaza crossings and release of the Israeli solider and…?

Spokesperson: I think I have answered this before, Masood. I have said the Secretary-General has constantly asked for the opening of the crossings and the possibility of getting more humanitarian aid and more reconstruction aid inside Gaza. So this is a constant and the Secretary-General has never stopped. All his special envoys on the ground have never stopped talking about it. In terms of the Goldstone report, you know I cannot talk for Mr. Goldstone; he was with you yesterday and had the opportunity to answer your questions. In terms of the Palestinian prisoners, we have also been raising this over and over again. Yes.

Question: But I just wanted to confirm it that as Israeli authorities, the only UN authorities, that one of the reasons that they have stopped opening the Gaza crossing is that one Israeli soldier and their…?

Spokesperson: No, I’m not aware that this was officially ever said to the UN Secretariat.

Question: So it is not linked?

Spokesperson: Pardon me?

Question: It is not linked with the release of the Israeli soldier?

Spokesperson: I don’t know. I cannot answer for the Israeli Government. I think you should ask the question to the Israeli Mission. Yes.

Question: …[inaudible] a lot of contact with the Israelis were his; does he get that message that on this Mr. Shalit, because they have expressed that openly…?

Spokesperson: Well, I am not aware of that. Of course you can ask Mr. [Robert] Serry whether he had received, whether he had had exchanges and discussions on that specific subject.

Question: Well, since the water situation in Gaza is getting very bad, and of course the contamination is very high and at least that 1.5 million people are at risk here, is. Is there any initiative the United Nations can do in order to bring about some solution to that?

Spokesperson: Well, there have been several things on the water situation raised by UNRWA on the ground, and it has been raised with the authorities, I am sure.

Question: Here at the United Nations, the General Assembly is due and many leaders are here. Is the [inaudible]…to do anything about it?

Spokesperson: Well, it’s going to be raised by not only the Secretary-General, but by Member States of this Organization of course. Yes, Khaled.

Question: When is the SG going to hand the Goldstone report to the Security Council and what’s the process?

Spokesperson: Before the Secretary-General does that, he has to get the mandate from the Human Rights Council. The actual report is going to be given, as you know, to the Human Rights Council, and one of the recommendations of the report ‑‑ you read it yesterday ‑‑ was that the Human Rights Council ask the Secretary-General to, under Article 99, to follow up with the Security Council. So right now, until the end of the month, we don’t have anywhere to move on this until the Human Rights Council has seen the report and has acted on it.

Question: Michèle, the Israelis have already rejected all the recommendations made by the fact-finding mission, including that the Security Council ask Israel to conduct an inquiry into the Gaza [inaudible]…?

Spokesperson: Well, this was asked of Mr. Goldstone yesterday, and I think he answered that question. Yes.

Question: [inaudible]

Spokesperson: I am telling you what the UN can do.

Question: What my colleague meant is that Israel has already announced, you know, that they reject the report; they’re not going to make any investigation committee. So, what’s the UN reaction to that…?

Spokesperson: Well, the UN does not react to reactions. What we’re doing right now is waiting for formal answers and formal directions from the Human Rights Council and the Security Council on this specific subject. Yes.


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