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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

THURSDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT ON VIOLENCE IN GAZA AND SOUTHERN ISRAEL

  • The Secretary-General had separate telephone calls on Wednesday with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he discussed the violence in southern Israel and Gaza and the need to prevent any further deterioration. That violence included an alarming escalation of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by Israel of a Hamas military operative in Gaza.
  • In his call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Secretary-General reiterated his strong condemnation of rocket fire out of Gaza and noted his expectation that Israeli reactions are measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed that could cause additional civilian casualties and have dangerous spillover effects in the region. He called for the parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to respect international humanitarian law.
  • In his call with President Morsi, the Secretary-General expressed strong support for the leadership being exercised by Egypt to restore calm in the region.
  • The Secretary-General is monitoring developments very closely and with considerable concern.
  • On Thursday morning, he spoke with Catherine Ashton of the European Union and in the afternoon the Secretary-General was due to meet regional Ambassadors at United Nations headquarters.

U.N. AGENCY SAYS ONE OF ITS TEACHERS KILLED BY ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE IN GAZA

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says that one of its teachers was killed on Thursday by an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza.
  • Marwan Abu El Qumsan, an Arabic teacher at the Agency’s Preparatory Boys School in Jabalia, was killed, while his brother was severely injured.
  • The Relief and Works Agency expressed its condolences to Marwan's family on their tragic loss and reiterated its concern about the escalation of violence, which puts civilians on both sides of the conflict at risk.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE

  • In a statement issued on Thursday on the eve of national elections, the Secretary-General strongly encourages Sierra Leoneans to ensure that the same peaceful spirit that has characterized the electoral process thus far prevails on election day, as well as during the vote counting and announcement of the results.
  • The Secretary-General pays tribute to the registered political parties, national institutions and other national stakeholders for their cooperation following the signing of the 18 May 2012 Declaration in which they committed themselves to peaceful, free and fair elections.
  • Peaceful elections resulting in a credible outcome are critical for consolidating Sierra Leone’s hard-won peace and for demonstrating that the tremendous progress the country has made since the end of the hostilities one decade ago is irreversible.
  • The United Nations reaffirms its continued support to Sierra Leone’s efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

RECOGNITION OF GOVERNMENTS IS FOR MEMBER STATES TO DECIDE: Asked whether the United Nations recognises the Syrian opposition as the Government of Syria, the Spokesperson said that the question of recognition is for Member States to decide. 

U.N. CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF GUIDED TOURS AT HEADQUARTERS: On Thursday, the United Nations celebrated 60 years of guided tours at UN Headquarters. Over this period, more than 40 million visitors have been introduced to the work of the Organization by a multinational, multilingual team of guides. To mark this special occasion, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Ban were due to inaugurate a special exhibit in the General Assembly public lobby on Thursday afternoon. 

***The guests at the Noon Briefing were the Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, and the Head of the Secretary-General's Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, Charles Petrie. They briefed reporters on the Panel’s recent report.