** Middle East
As I mentioned in response to a question yesterday, the Secretary-General yesterday submitted to the General Assembly his second follow-up to the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. In it, he notes that he received documents from the Israeli, Palestinian and Swiss Missions, following requests for written information from each of them.
The submissions received from those parties, the Secretary-General says, total approximately 382 pages. For technical reasons, he is unable to issue the documents or his observations at the present time. He will report further as soon as the technical process of translation is completed.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Martin, do you have any update on Gaza, because although Israel has opened some of the land routes, they’re still not allowing any aid to come in through any sea routes at all. And David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, called it a virtual prison. So is there an update of what is happening in Gaza, because on one side the land route is there, but still the people of Gaza are suffering?
Spokesperson: Well, let’s be very clear that the Secretary-General understands and shares the desire of many people around the world with regard to helping the people of Gaza. And he’s consistently expressed his deep concern at the unsustainable and unacceptable conditions in Gaza, and he’s also called for an end to the blockade and the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).
As I’ve said here before, he’s pleased with the recent progress that’s been made in easing Israel’s closure of the Strip. But equally, as I’ve also said, he’s stressing that much more needs to be done to revive the economy, to allow for civilian reconstruction, to restore exports — which don’t exist at the moment — and to ensure the movement of people in and out of the Gaza Strip. The United Nations is actually at the forefront of efforts to bring about these changes, and the Secretary-General remains fully committed to ensuring respect, by all parties, of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
It’s important to stress, as we’ve said, that the Secretary-General wishes to see Gazans and all Palestinians have normal relations with the outside world, including routine access. To this end, he believes that all parties should work urgently for a restoration of Palestinian unity and for a two-State solution.
Question: A follow-up on that. Do you consider that the situation in Gaza is still a humanitarian crisis or after the opening of, partly opening, or allowing some aid to come, has it changed?
Spokesperson: We continue to believe that the conditions there are unsustainable and unacceptable.
Question: A humanitarian crisis?
Spokesperson: Clearly, there is a huge amount that needs to be done; really, a huge amount that needs to be done. People are living in dire conditions. They would like to be able to resurrect their economy, to rebuild their houses and to be able to move freely. The Secretary-General and the United Nations agree with that and are working hard for that to happen. Yes?
Question: What is the status regarding the independent inquiry mission on the freedom flotilla, the Secretary-General’s panel?
Spokesperson: We’ve repeatedly said, Nizar — I’m happy to repeat it again — that the Secretary-General’s proposal remains on the table, very firmly on the table. The Secretary-General is looking for a positive response from the countries concerned as soon as possible.
Question: And it’s not coming yet?
Spokesperson: As I say, the Secretary-General has said repeatedly, and I’ve said it repeatedly, the proposal remains on the table. He has actively reached out to Israeli and Turkish leaders to discuss this matter and continues to do so, as do other United Nations officials. Yes?
Question: Just one more question on that ship. Did the United Nations Secretariat eventually have any sort of conclusive discussion with the Indians to allow that ship to leave and return the…?
Spokesperson: This I do not know. As I say, it could be that there have been further developments, and if that’s the case, I’ll be happy to let you know. Alright?