Daily Press Briefing – US Peace Plan (Excerpts)

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Can I ask a question now about the Middle East peace plan of the US again?  This is on the specifics of the settlements and the possible annexation by Israel, very conflicting messages from the US, because the plan says it’s over a four‑year thing, but they seem to be allowing the US [sic] to annex much earlier than that, although now Mr. [Jared] Kushner is saying Israel must wait until March.  What’s the Secretary‑General’s view on this possibly imminent annexation of West Bank settlements?

Spokesman:  Look, this issue of annexation has come up before.  Our position last week, last month, last year and today remains the same — is that, according to Security Council resolution 2334, Israeli settlement activities are flagrant violations under international law.  I mean, that’s been our position.  And as we said in the note in reaction to the plan being issued, we are bound by the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Yes, sir?

Question:  Thanks.  It’s actually…  I was going to ask you this question, but it’s actually now a follow‑up to James’ question.  Many… in many reactions and description of the US plan on the Middle East, people are describing on their own somebody saying it’s like Middle East peace plan like Swiss cheese, with Israelis are getting cheese and Palestinians are getting the holes.  How would the Secretary‑General… with what words… and you as his evocative Spokesperson…

Spokesman:  I’m his what?  Evocative Spokesperson…?

Question:  Very one, I mean, evocative one.

Spokesman:  Flattery will get you absolutely nowhere.  Listen…

Question:  I’m not flattering you.  You know me four years.  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I will let others and you and analysts do a colourful analogy‑laden analysis of the plan.  I think our reaction to the plan has been laid out, and I really have nothing to add to that.

Question:  Yeah, but if I just can follow up, it’s laid out.  We read what you’ve sent immediately.  You acted immediate… the words are absolutely precise and clear.  Still, we are striving here, and you are a former journalist.  You have to understand us.  We are trying to see the position of the Secretary‑General.  We don’t see it.  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  Listen, we… you have needs.  I try to meet them.  I have needs, and I’d like you to understand them.


Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Still on the President [Donald] Trump’s peace plan, we have heard and seen worldwide reaction from different parties one way or the other.  What about the Quartet?  Why are they remaining silent?

Spokesman:  We’re only 25 per cent of the Quartet.  So, we have spoken out.  I think your… you should ask questions to the other 75 per cent, if I get my math right.

Yes, sir?

Question:  Two questions.  Number one, UN envoy in the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, spoke yesterday at a security conference, saying that, if Israel is to move forward with applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, that would be the end of the possibility of negotiations.  Is that the Secretary‑General’s stance?

Spokesman:  Yeah, we’ve said… I mean, Mr. Mladenov represents the Secretary‑General.  We’ve said… this is something that we’ve said previously.

Question:  So, how urgent are the next two weeks then?  If that’s it, if that’s the end of negotiations…

Spokesman:  We have no way of knowing what decisions the Israeli Government will take.  We’re just expressing our position.

Question:  The second question I had, Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu reportedly is going to fly to Uganda on Monday, possibly for an announcement of an embassy move to the capital Jerusalem.  Uganda was part or at least reportedly part of a refugee deal with the UN that Netanyahu suspended under political pressure in 2018.  Last month, the UN envoy for refugees in Israel said that he’s trying to reinstate that deal.  Has there been any movement whatsoever on that?

Spokesman:  I think that’s… I’m not aware of the details of that… that’s a question best asked to our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Correspondent:  Okay.  Thank you, Stéphane.

Spokesman:  Mr. Bays?

Question:  First, a quick follow‑up to Mr. Abbadi’s question.  The way the Quartet calls its meetings is very opaque.  One doesn’t really know whether the Quartet really exists anymore, but surely, as a member of the Quartet, the Secretary‑General, as one of the four members, could call a Quartet meeting.  Would this not be a good time for him to call a Quartet meeting?  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I think it would be… you know, let me leave it at that.  [laughter]

Correspondent:  I don’t… [cross talk]

Spokesman:  No, no, exactly.  Leave it… no…

Correspondent:  You didn’t say anything.  [laughter]

Spokesman:  Let me leave it nowhere.  If there’s an update on Quartet meetings, I will let you know.  I’m trying to unfold myself here.  [cross talk]

For information media. Not an official record.


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