Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General is currently travelling to Saudi Arabia from Amman, Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah as he continued his efforts to push for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. He told reporters that he came to Jordan with a heavy heart, knowing that so many people have been killed and wounded in Gaza. He said that over a recent two-day period, one Palestinian child had been killed every hour. The Secretary-General said that he thanked Jordan’s Government and people for the humanitarian assistance given to Gaza.
Earlier today, he met in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres and said to the press that the violence must stop now. He added that it is important for dialogue to be resumed between Israelis and Palestinians, saying that whatever the obstacles, they share a common future.
The Secretary-General also held separate meetings this morning with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. In those meetings, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire, without conditions. He stressed the need to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. Once a ceasefire is in place, the Secretary-General underscored the urgent need to address the underlying issues. He stressed the importance of ensuring the unhindered freedom of movement for humanitarian actors and their operations.
And the Secretary-General met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry before leaving Israel for Jordan. He said in press remarks after that meeting that this is the fifteenth day since the crisis began, and that we do not have time to lose. His press remarks and readouts are online.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, addressed the Human Rights Council at its special session today on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and discussed the situation in Gaza and Israel. She said that, according to preliminary UN figures, around 74 per cent of those killed so far were civilians, and thousands more have been injured. Those numbers have climbed dramatically since Israel’s ground operations began on 17 July. Hundreds of homes and other civilian buildings, such as schools, have been destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza, and more than 140,000 Palestinians have been displaced as a result.
Ms. Pillay added that two Israeli civilians have also lost their lives, and between 17 and 32 others have been reported injured as a result of rockets and other projectiles fired from Gaza. Also, 27 Israeli soldiers have been killed during military operations in Gaza. Her full remarks are online.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the Security Council today, warning that the Islamic State has grown to be a complex threat to peace and security in Iraq, the entire region and beyond. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on Iraq, he urged the Council to demand that the Islamic State cease all hostilities and atrocities. He called on Member States to cooperate in enforcing existing sanctions and hold accountable the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the horrific terrorist acts, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq.
Speaking about treatment of minorities in the Ninewa Province, he added that tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, while many others have been executed or kidnapped. He added that the UN has received reports that women and children are being targeted in the conflict areas. Mr. Mladenov said all parties to the conflict must ensure that international human rights and humanitarian law are respected. He called for the establishment of humanitarian corridors and respect for impartial organizations that are providing assistance. His full remarks are available in our office.
The World Food Programme started airlifting food yesterday for a total of 50,000 of the most vulnerable displaced people in Syria’s north-eastern Al Hassakeh governorate, as food deliveries by road are blocked and concern is rising about growing needs. The first of 23 World Food Programme-chartered flights from Damascus landed at Qamishli airport, bringing critically needed food rations for 4,000 people. Subsequent flights will carry rations for 50,000 people for one month, ready-to-eat foods, and other humanitarian assistance such as life-saving medicine to meet the immediate needs of new arrivals in the area.
The United Nations in Afghanistan convened a meeting today at the headquarters of the Independent Election Commission to strengthen the audit of the Presidential run-off election. One of the purposes of the meeting was to discuss best practices developed during the last six days of auditing. The UN hopes that this will help the audit to proceed more rapidly, and in an orderly and respectful environment. The audit is being carried out under the authority of the Independent Election Commission, with the close and extensive international supervision led by the UN.
Also on Afghanistan, a post-disaster measles vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organization and the Afghan Ministry of Public health has been completed in provinces affected by severe flooding earlier this year. More than 320,000 children in five provinces in northern Afghanistan have been vaccinated.
The Secretary-General, in a message, said that he stands in solidarity with all those taking part in vigils today to demonstrate that the world has not forgotten the girls who were so cruelly abducted from their school 100 days ago in Chibok, Nigeria. The Secretary-General once more calls for their immediate release, and for an end to discrimination, intimidation and violence against girls whose only wish is to gain an education. Only by shielding them from harm and enabling them to realize their full potential can we usher in a better future for all.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan reports that heavy fighting erupted again in Nassir Town at around 9 a.m. today between armed youths and SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] troops in the western part of town. One shell landed inside the Mission base on the south eastern edge of Nassir Town but did not explode. All UNMISS personnel stationed in the base are safe and accounted for.
And also on South Sudan, I’ve an appointment to announce. The Secretary-General has appointed Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. Ms. Løj succeeds Hilde Johnson of Norway, who completed her assignment on 7 July 2014. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Johnson’s dedication and leadership of UNMISS since the Mission’s start in July 2011. Ms. Løj most recently served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. We have more on this appointment in our office.
**Central Emergency Response Fund
The Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has allocated $75 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to boost life-saving relief work in two of the world’s most neglected regions: the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Eleven countries were selected based on a global review of critical aid operations that are facing funding deficits. This is the second of two annual rounds of allocations for underfunded emergencies. Ms. Amos said that with so many crises competing for attention many people in need are forgotten. She warned that these countries could fall back into crisis if we don’t help now. There is more information in a press release.
**Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, will be meeting with officials of the two countries during a mission to the region next week. He will be in Skopje on 28 and 29 of July and in Athens on 30 and 31 of July. The goal of the meetings is to reinvigorate the UN-sponsored talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue.
As I mentioned yesterday, John Ging, the Director of Operation at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will be my guest today. He will be here shortly to brief about his recent trip to Ethiopia.
And tomorrow at 12:45 p.m., in this room, there will be a press conference by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on the Central African Republic. Speakers include Sylvain Groulx, the MSF Head of Mission for Central African Republic, and Dounia Dekhili, MSF Deputy Manager of Emergency Programs.
That’s it for me. Any questions before Mr. Ging gets here?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Farhan, does the Secretary-General also believe, like his Human Rights Commissioner in Geneva, that crimes against humanity were committed in Gaza, by both Israel and Hamas? Does he believe that? And also, I’d like to know, a follow-up on that, whether the Secretary-General after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister believes there is some hope, because so far, it seems that there’s nothing coming out from there.
Deputy Spokesman: Yes, thanks. The Secretary-General has been very clear about the need for a ceasefire right now and he remains hopeful that something can be struck. Of course, it remains to be seen when we can arrive at that, but he, as you can see, is going from country to country, meeting up with many leaders. He spoke, in fact, by telephone with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu again today. So he’s continuing with his efforts, and ultimately, he believes that there is no other option but to have a halt to fighting and return to dialogue. That’s the only way forward for the people of Israel and Palestine. Regarding your first question, the Secretary-General has stressed the need for accountability and we’ll see what kind of investigations result once the immediate matters, which is to say the need for a halt to fighting, are arrived at.
Question: So, does he in any case… he doesn’t… basically what you’re saying, does he agree with the assessment of his Human Rights Commission that crimes against humanity were committed over there?
Deputy Spokesman: Any idea of whether of crimes were committed is something that would need to be investigated and we’ll have to see what steps, first and foremost, are taken by the parties on the ground and then whether any additional steps are needed afterwards. But for right now, the idea is any accountability would need to proceed first from the parties and we’ll have to see where we go from there. Matthew?
Question: Sure, thanks a lot. I wanted to ask you about something you said, and also that your office put out. You said that when the Secretary-General did a press availability with Secretary of State Kerry that he said “we do not have much time to wait and lose”. But the State Department’s transcript has, right before he says that, a question, “Mr. Secretary-General, do you think it’s appropriate for Qatar to be paying for your flight here, given their support for Hamas?” Secretary-General Ban: “No, ladies and gentlemen, this is the fifteenth day since the crisis began. We do not have much time to weigh the rules.” That’s what they say he said. And in fact, people that were there say that’s what he said. So, I wanted to know… first, I wanted to know the status of what I asked you yesterday about checking with the Ethics Office about the rules. But two, are you unaware… it seems… why wouldn’t the question that was asked to the Secretary-General before he began speaking be included? And how do you explain what seems to be kind of a, basically, covering up the issue? Like, he was asked why he was taking the plane. He said, no time for the rules. And then suddenly the word is switched.
Deputy Spokesman: The words weren’t switched. That’s what we heard. Put it this way, Stéphane [Dujarric] sent the audio and the audio that we heard, and I’ve heard it myself, is one that just has the Secretary-General’s voice. It sounds like “wait and lose”. That’s what we got. That’s how we transcribed it.
Question: Why wouldn’t they include the question he was answering to? And also, I don’t want to forget the second part of the question, which is, what is the status? Because the reason I say people that were there say he said it. But it’s also consistent with what Stéphane said, which is that things moved so fast, there was no time to… Which would be fine, except, what really is troubling to me is the idea that a question could be erased and a word changed. So have you spoken with the State Department about their transcription of what they heard?
Deputy Spokesman: It’s not a question of something being erased. We have audio of a few minutes that just has the Secretary-General. If there was something there that was not part of what was sent, but it’s possible that when he was taping, that part was missed.
Question: Was Stéphane there?
Deputy Spokesman: Stéphane was there. It’s his audio.
Question: So does he know the question was asked?
Question: Would it be possible for you to play that for us, as a follow-up?
Deputy Spokesman: When we get these audios, we try to share them with UN Radio, so then you have the audio available; but, like I said, the audio was just of his part. It’s quite possible that he hadn’t started recording or missed the question.
Question: He didn’t hear the question?
Deputy Spokesman: I don’t know. I’m not Stéphane. He’s travelling right now.
Question: Can you answer that? Did you ask the Ethics Office?
Deputy Spokesman: Yeah, I wrote them. I have no response back.
Question: I’ve got to follow-up. I mean, the difference between these words is not the matter of omitting an “ummm” or a “but”. I mean, this is what would seem to be a very substantial difference in the intention of the comments. And, in one case, in the transcript from the State Department, it would imply that the Secretary-General is acknowledging a potential ethical dilemma, whereas in the United Nations transcript, it’s the denial of any sort of ethical dilemma. Do you believe that the State Department has misquoted the Secretary-General, because this is a discrepancy that is online? The Associated Press has quoted the United Nations transcript.
Deputy Spokesman: We have tried to put out as faithful a transcript as we have of the audio that we have. We will put the audio up so you can hear for yourselves and judge for yourselves what he said. But we transcribed it as we heard it.
[The Deputy Spokesman later noted that the State Department had acknowledged its transcription was in error and corrected its transcript.]
Question: So, could I ask the question that was asked to the Secretary-General to you? Does the Secretary-General believe that it is appropriate for Qatar to be paying for his flight to the Middle East, given their support for Hamas?
Deputy Spokesman: The Secretary-General believes that it is appropriate to do what he can do to get to the region and talk to the leaders. Obviously, if he had his own aircraft, he could travel wherever he wants, but we have never had that facility. We have often tried to use aircraft provided by member Governments as in-kind assistance for necessary trips and we have cleared those as we get those requests. But ultimately, for a trip like this, the Secretary-General has, as you’ve noticed, visited a great number of countries just in the last six days. He could not possibly have done that on the commercial travel that we try to arrange at other times. And, in fact today, for example, he has not travelled to Saudi Arabia on a Qatari plane, but he has travelled on one that was on a Saudi chartered jet. And, by the way, the jet was not a Qatari plane. I think I made that clear a few days ago and Stéphane has made it clear. It’s a UK plane. It was chartered by the Qataris so that he could travel there.
Question: What’s the value of the gift?
Deputy Spokesman: What?
Question: What’s the value of the gift?
Deputy Spokesman: It’s regarded as something that’s in-kind that enables him to do his work. Yes?
Question: On Syria, Farhan, do you have any update on how food is or is not being distributed since the resolution?
Deputy Spokesman: Yeah, in fact, one of the notes I just read seconds ago was about how the World Food Programme is proceeding with airlifting of food in the Hassakeh governorate, with 23 flights chartered by the World Food Programme to be going to Qamishli airport. So we’re proceeding with that. We’ve been providing updates every few days, but that’s the latest one from today.
Question: Does that involve any of the new border crossings?
Deputy Spokesman: We are trying with those as well. I think you’ve seen what we’ve said about Syria in recent days about border crossings. But we’re working on the monitoring mechanism and other things so that we can use the border crossings, as per the Security Council resolution. Joe?
Question: Yes, I want to go back to the Qatar issue, because… and the reason that it is somewhat disturbing is, I guess I want to get the chronology here. First of all, when did the Secretary-General first plan… initiate the plan to go to the Middle East for this mission? And what efforts were made to seek transport from more neutral Member States? The fact is, Qatar not only supports Hamas, but also, at least allegedly, has provided funding and support for the Islamic jihadists who are fighting in Syria. So I’d like to know what efforts were made during the time between he first initiated the idea of going to the Middle East on this mission and when he actually left, in terms of looking for other alternative transport from more neutral Member States? Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: I think you’re aware that the start of the ground offensive was Thursday. On Friday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, informed the Security Council that the Secretary-General would travel to the region, and he left for the region on Saturday. That’s as fast a timetable as we could do. Yes?
Question: That doesn’t… wait a minute, that’s perhaps 24-48 hours. I’d like to know, and maybe you can check this, if efforts were made… how the offer from Qatar originated, and secondly, what efforts, if any, were made to search other alternative means of transportation.
Deputy Spokesman: There were efforts made to find what the best means of transportation were. This is what we could arrive at, at that timetable. Yes, Sherwyn? No, Sherwyn first, he hasn’t asked yet.
Question: Farhan, I’d like to continue that line of questioning. I guess, simply put, the question is, is there perhaps a potential conflict of interest in the Secretary-General using a plane provided by Qatar that supports Hamas historically? Is there any potential conflict of interest in the Secretary-General, who is mediating this conflict, taking a plane from Qatar?
Deputy Spokesman: The Secretary-General was himself visiting Qatar. He was visiting Egypt. He’s visited [Saudi Arabia], Jordan, Israel and Palestine in the course of his trip. There are a number of different parties he’s been meeting with and he deals with them equally and even-handedly, trying to get at a ceasefire. As you know, the peace plan, the ceasefire initiative that he’s been pushing, is one that is led by the Government of Egypt and he’s been trying to get support in the region and among the key parties for that. To that extent, he’s travelled to any number of them. I don’t see that as a conflict of interest, any more than it would be to go to Qatar, or to go to Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries he’s visited. Yes?
Question: Yeah, I’d like to know that, yesterday, the United Nations Relief Works [Agency] for Palestine said that there were over 100,000 people seeking refuge. Now, has that number since yesterday risen to 106,000 or whatever at this point in time? Do you have any idea what is the exact number? How many people are displaced by Israeli shelling?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, what Navi Pillay said at the Human Rights Council today is that more than 140,000 Palestinians have been displaced. Of that number, roughly 100,000 or so have been seeking refuge in the facilities of the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA.
Question: They are only in facilities in Gaza, or in facilities elsewhere?
Deputy Spokesman: In Gaza, yes. Mr. Abaddi?
Question: Thank you. On Gaza, again. The Secretary-General recently, last few days, has been repeating this, that first the ceasefire is not enough; you have to deal with the root causes of the problem. The root causes of the conflict have been known for over 65 years and the Quartet was trying to deal with them. Why hasn’t the Quartet said one word in the past few days in the face of the hostilities? Second, the Secretary-General wants these root causes to be dealt with urgently. What measures is he taking to make sure that the dialogue towards resolving the root causes is both urgent and continuing? Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: The Secretary-General has been dealing with all of his interlocutors in terms of bringing up the need to address root causes, so that among other things, we don’t face the exact same problems every few years, as we’ve been doing in 2009, 2012 and now again this year. Regarding the Quartet, you’re right that there’s no statement that the Quartet has issued; but two of the four principle members of the Quartet, namely the US Secretary of State and the Secretary-General, are on the ground. They’ve actually met with each other twice in the recent days, in Cairo and then again in Israel. And so they have been coordinating different efforts and trying to make sure that the various diplomatic efforts on the ground are handled in a way that’s productive. So, the individual members of the Quartet are pursing different pathways on the ground to get at a ceasefire.
Question: Thank you, Farhan. In the last couple of days there were a lot of discussions on Ukraine and possible UN police mission being sent there, which is, by the way, supported, as I understand, by President [Petro] Poroshenko. Has the Ukrainian authorities talked to somebody in the Secretariat over this possible mission? Is it possible in this case?
Deputy Spokesman: I’m not aware of any contact with President Poroshenko in this. I do believe that in the coming days, possibly by this weekend, that the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, will travel to Kyiv and Moscow, and he’ll be in contact with the leadership there and can talk to them about various proposals. Beyond that, I don’t have anything to say. Yes?
Question: It seems like the root of the… and there are many people that do perceive a conflict of interest, just as they would see if he took a flight from Israel. It’s not a question of liking or not liking Qatar. It’s a question of taking the flight from a country that obviously has a noted position in it, so I wanted to know, would for example, the Secretary-General take a flight from BP, British Petroleum, to visit the site of an oil spill? Meaning, what are the rules?
Deputy Spokesman: The Secretary-General takes fights that are provided by Governments as in-kind contributions.
Question: Sure. My question is this, it all seems to go back to the idea that there’s not… he can’t afford a travel budget to actually fly in an impartial way. Like, I’m going to go back… it’s the same thing of like a judge taking a car ride from a litigant. Like, you should probably pay for it yourself. So, the question becomes, and you and Stéphane have been asked at least a dozen times since I’ve been here, what is the travel budget of the Secretary-General? And I think it’s important, given that this has now led to this. What is the budget? Doesn’t the UN actually know how much it spends? And if so, how much this would have cost? These are factual questions.
Deputy Spokesman: I believe we have provided what the travel budget in the General Assembly…
Correspondent: I’ve never seen it.
Deputy Spokesman: There’s a General Assembly document which has a travel budget.
Question: Can you provide it within an hour after this briefing? Is that possible?
Deputy Spokesman: There’s a General Assembly document. It takes a while to find, for me to find the right line, but we’ve had that in the past and we’ve shared it. It’s a bit of an underestimate because we tend to go above the allotments and that’s part of a discussion we have with the General Assembly.
Question: And this thing with the Ethics Office, you’ve written to them?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes.
Question: Are you asking them whether they were asked in advance? Not if they will rule now, because I’m pretty how they’ll rule now that he’s already done the flight. But was he asked in advance? And what are the rules that apply when this type of situation comes up?
Deputy Spokesman: I’ve talked to them in the past about the rules that applied and I’ve been told, more than once, in fact, that if the Secretary-General needs to travel to a place for the course of his work, that it’s acceptable to have that sort of in-kind contribution from a Member State.
Question: Would you take it from an ICC [International Criminal Court]-indicted person? I mean, you’re saying like there are no rules.
Deputy Spokesman: That’s actually a reductio ad absurdum. That’s a reductio ad absurdum argument. Matthew, you’re not a lawyer and this is not a courtroom. I told you what the rule is.
Correspondent: I am a lawyer.
Deputy Spokesman: No, in this context you’re not. This is a press briefing and if you are being a lawyer, then you’re not entitled to be at the noon briefing. You’re here as a journalist.
Correspondent: I understand. And that’s why I’m asking a question. I’ve asked you Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…
Deputy Spokesman: And you’ve asked a factual question and I’ve given you the factual answer. It’s frankly false to compare the Secretary-General to a judge. It’s false to say that we have had a flight from an ICC indictee. These are reductio ad absurdum…
Question: I said, would you take a flight from Sudan? Has the Secretary-General flown on a flight from Sudan? That’s my question. It’s a factual question. Would he accept a flight from Sudan?
Deputy Spokesman: In Sudan, we have a peacekeeping mission and can fly on the aircraft from our peacekeeping mission. It’s a perfectly different sort of question. Yes?
Question: Farhan, can you give a readout on who was on the flight? The Qatari-charted flight with the Secretary-General and what sort of discussions they had on board?
Deputy Spokesman: It was his delegation. It was the Secretary-General and his delegation, including his advisers and people like Stéphane.
Question: But were there representatives from the Qatari Government, for instance, or other participants?
Deputy Spokesman: No, no. That wasn’t the case. It was for the delegation and for, of course, the flight crew. Yes?
Question: Let me provide you with a diversion. I might have missed this yesterday. The Open-Working Group released 17 proposals on SDGs [sustainable development goals] that the General Assembly has to finalize. I don’t know if there was comment yesterday in the noon briefing. Is there any reaction from the Secretariat?
Deputy Spokesman: Not at this stage. We’re following the process as it proceeds, of course, and we’ll see how it goes as they come to any further conclusions. Yes?
Question: What is the Secretary-General’s official stance on the Russia-Ukraine situation, especially after this tough, you know, incident with the plane that happened? And also, does Secretary-General plan to visit Russia or Ukraine anytime soon? And what kind of concrete steps does he think United Nations should take in order to bring peace to the region? Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: Well, the next concrete step will be that the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, will visit Kyiv and Moscow. I believe that that will start sometime this weekend and he’ll try to take further the process. You’ll have seen what Mr. Feltman’s recent briefing to the Security Council has been and that conveys our views about the situation and he’ll try to take those views further when he meets with the leadership in those countries. Yes?
Question: Back to Boko Haram, can anything be done there, besides killing them all? In Nigeria, because they don’t seem to stop. It’s 100 days now. The UN seems to have very little influence since they wrecked the UN Headquarters also. Any bright ideas?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we’ve had a number of officials, including Gordon Brown and Said Djinnit, trying to deal with the issue of how to protect girls’ rights to education in Nigeria, as well as in other parts of the world. And we’re continuing to work with local authorities on that, but we’re also trying to provide different forms of support, including psycho-social support to both the families of the abducted girls, and also to the ones who’ve been recently freed from their abduction. So we’re continuing with those efforts. In terms of the efforts to find the girls, of course, that’s in the hands of the Nigerian authorities. Yes?
Question: Thank you, Farhan, once again. Back to Ukraine, so, over the weekend, it’s going to be first Kyiv, then Moscow or the other way, first Moscow?
Deputy Spokesman: We’ll give you his itinerary once it’s set. Right now, he’s here in New York making the arrangements for his further travel and once we can talk about what his further travel will be, we’ll make that announcement.
Question: The second question?
Deputy Spokesman: Yeah, sure?
Question: What’s with the monthly report of Ivan Šimonović on the human rights? Was there any this month? If not, why wasn’t there any?
Deputy Spokesman: We’ll check. There should be one being presented soon and we’ll check when the date for that will be. [He later informed the correspondent that the report was due on 28 July.]
Question: How is he travelling? Is this commercial flights?
Deputy Spokesman: It’s a combination of commercial flights and other flights. Right now, as I speak, he’s in a Saudi plane travelling to Saudi Arabia.
Question: No, I’m asking about to Ukraine. Ukraine and Moscow. It seems to be there should be disclosure going forward.
Deputy Spokesman: Mr. Feltman, I believe, will be travelling commercially, yes.
Question: Yes, about that discussion on the Secretary-General at this moment, yesterday, today, hopefully tomorrow, find a solution. The solution cannot just be ceasefire. Of course, ceasefire is something helps, but for a longer-term solution. This crisis looks very, very similar to what happened eight years ago in Lebanon and even the circumstances of how the conflict started. And the solution was at one point found by the UN and by the Security Council strengthening a force, a UN force to be kind of a buffer between Hizbullah and Israel. Now, my question is, in this discussion, is any talk of a solution that will, in the talks especially with Israel and Hamas, that would bring a force, a UN force inside Gaza to prevent the crisis like this is repeated and especially that then the victims are innocent civilians? They don’t have any protection. No one is protecting in this moment the Palestinian people in Gaza. Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: At this stage, the discussions are on the Egyptian-led initiative for a ceasefire and we’ll see where we can get with that. You pointed out some similarities, but each circumstance is unique and I don’t think what will happen this time around is the same as what happened in 2006 for the Israel-Lebanon situation. So, we’ll have to see how it unfolds, but the Secretary-General has been pushing for support for the Egyptian-led initiative.
Okay, and with that, John Ging is here, so let’s move on to that.
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