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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
19 July 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

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**Questions and Answers

Question:  Maybe you have heard about the new laws issued by Israel, racial laws preventing Palestinians from the right of a vote in their own land.  Is there any reaction to that from the Secretary-General or the Secretariat?

Spokesperson:  Simply to reiterate that, at the moment, what we need to see is movement in the right direction.  We have the proximity talks; there were some talks, a variation on proximity talks held over the weekend in Cairo, as you know.  The key thing here is to avoid any action which could undermine those proximity talks and efforts to try to bring the sides together.

Question:  I’m talking here about people living in 1948 Palestine — 25,000 families are probably losing their right of citizenship.

Spokesperson:  I understand, and as you know, UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] has a key role in helping Palestinian refugees, wherever they may be and whatever their circumstance is.  The point I’m trying to make is that any change in status at this time is unlikely to be helpful as we look at the bigger picture, which is proximity talks, leading to direct talks, leading to a settlement that would ultimately help people, like the ones that you mention.

Question:  Two questions, Martin, and welcome back.  First one, the Goldstone Report.  I believe today is the final deadline day for Israel to submit its report to the Secretary-General.  Have you received it, and when will the Secretary-General respond or pass on this information to the General Assembly?

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Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, on Goldstone, the Secretary-General has indeed received the Israeli response.  ...

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Question:  ...   I wanted to ask you this question of follow-up over there on the Middle East.  The Secretary-General has proposed a commission, and he is apparently still waiting for permission from Israel.  Is it going to take forever for that decision to be made that this commission should move forward and how it should be constituted, or do you have anything to tell us new on this commission?

Spokesperson:  Nothing specifically new to add to what I know Farhan [Haq] has said to you on a number of occasions in the last couple of weeks when I wasn’t here, and that is that the Secretary-General is very actively pursuing this.  As you know, he has met Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, he’s spoken to him on the telephone.  He’s also spoken to the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mr. [Ahmet] Davutoğlu, about this matter too.  So he is pursuing this very vigorously, and clearly, he does want to push ahead with it.  But, as we’ve also mentioned on a number of occasions, you do need those key elements in place before you can actually make it happen.

Question:  But the foot dragging is on the part of which country?  Is it Turkey or is it Israel?

Spokesperson:  Look, it’s not a question of foot dragging; it is a question of making sure that everybody is on the same page, to mix a metaphor.  It’s not for me to characterize the positions of other countries, or of Member States; they can do that themselves.  All I would say is that the Secretary-General is in frequent contact, as I’ve just told you, with the parties concerned, and would hope to have a positive response so that he can then push ahead with this commission sooner rather than later.

Question:  How is the humanitarian situation in Gaza?  They mentioned they would ease the blockade.  How many trucks are entering Gaza every day and what kind of materials are going in?

Spokesperson:  Good question, I’ll get some specific answers from UNRWA.  But what we’ve said repeatedly is: yes, there is some progress, yes, we’re seeing some movement, but it’s certainly not enough.  We need to see far more, and that’s what we’re working towards.  But let’s try to get an update from UNRWA for you.

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