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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
15 April 2008

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


** Gaza

UN humanitarian and development agencies working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory today said they are gravely concerned about the limited fuel supplies in the Gaza Strip.  According to the agencies, the current situation is a threat to the health and well-being of the people of the Gaza Strip, 56 per cent of whom are children.  In addition, the UN’s humanitarian work in Gaza has been severely hampered.

The agencies add that, while Israel’s decision to resume fuel deliveries to Gaza’s power plant is a positive step, it is insufficient.  At the same time, the agencies call for a cessation of all acts of violence, including such attacks as the recent one on the Nahal Oz fuel crossing.  We have the whole statement upstairs.


Question:  President Carter is going on a mission to the Middle East.  He intends to talk with Hamas, one of the organizations that is now controlling Gaza.  Does the Secretary-General support the mission of Mr. Carter when he talks with one group of Palestinians which the United States and Israel don’t like?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General has always said that he is in favour of any move to establish peace in the area.  That is all I can say at this point.  I don’t have anything specific on Mr. Carter’s visit.


Question:  Does Mr. Ban Ki-moon believe that getting Hamas back into the political game would help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

Spokesperson:  He has called before, as you know, for a dialogue between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the Government itself.  And he has been talking about the fact that Gaza and the West Bank, the Occupied Territory, are one territory.  As I said, he is in favour of any approach that would help bring peace to the area.


Question:  On this Hamas business.  The Secretary-General is still a member of the Quartet, if I remember correctly…?

Spokesperson:  Yes, he is.

Question:  Does the Quartet still have a policy of not considering negotiations with Hamas before it recognizes Israel, agrees to previous agreements… you know, the three conditions that the Quartet has put before talking to Hamas?

Spokesperson:  Well, the Quartet, yes, has that position.

Question:  So, just to clarify what you said before…

Spokesperson:  What I said before was that the Secretary-General is in favour of anything that will move the peace process forward.  I am not saying that he is changing in any way the position of the Quartet, which he has signed.

Question:  You said that anything that could move the peace forward.  In the context of talking to Hamas…

Spokesperson:  This is an independent initiative.  It has nothing to do with the Quartet.

Question:  But in the context of talking with Hamas, the question is, as part of the Quartet, does he adhere to the question…

Spokesperson:  I said yes, he adheres to what the Quartet has said, yes.

Question:  Russia has received members of Hamas and some Europeans have conducted consultations with Hamas.  So, the position of the Quartet is not, as you said, that they don’t talk to Hamas or they maintain that they…

Spokesperson:  The position of the Quartet has been made clear during the last few months.

Question:  But Russia has received members of Hamas, and Europe has talked to Hamas…

Spokesperson:  There are a number of individual initiatives, yes.

Question:  But there is not one position on that, a collective position?

Spokesperson:  Well Benny’s question was about the Quartet.  And I confirm that the Quartet’s positions are what he said.

Question:  I am a little bit confused here.  Does he welcome talking to Hamas for finding a solution to the crisis we are having…

Spokesperson:  I am not answering it this way.  You asked me a question about Mr. Carter’s visit.  I am saying that Mr. Carter’s visit is an individual initiative, and I said that the Secretary-General has always said that he welcomes initiatives that can bring the process of peace forward.  I am not saying that the Secretary-General approves of that specific initiative, or supports that specific initiative.  I am saying, he has always been supportive of efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the area.

Question:  In follow-up to that:  is the Secretary-General aware of that initiative? I know that a couple of weeks ago we have discussed the “Elders” initiative, and you had said that the Secretary-General was aware of it, but did not necessarily support it, but that he supports all initiatives that push towards the peace process.  So, my question is, is he aware of that specific initiative?

Spokesperson:  Not that I know of.


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For information media • not an official record

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