24 JUNE 2020

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

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Middle East

As you all are well aware, the Security Council this morning held an open videoconference on the Middle East.

The Secretary-General took part in the meeting, noting in his remarks that we are at a watershed moment.  If implemented, the Secretary-General said, annexation by Israel would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  He called on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plan.  He also said that he will continue to consistently speak out against any unilateral steps that would undermine peace and the chances for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through meaningful negotiations.  Mr. Guterres also urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to commit to meaningful dialogue, with the support of the international community.

Also addressing the Council today was Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.  He asked Council members to join the Secretary-General in his call for an immediate reengagement, with no preconditions, between the Middle East Quartet and the Palestinian leadership, Israel and the countries of the region in order to find a way out of the current crisis.  And all those texts have been shared with you.

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Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes.  I’m a bit confused of why a meeting of the Quartet would be an answer to anything on the annexation controversy since the United States is a member of the Quartet and what…  it could stop any decisions…

Spokesman:  You know, obviously, a Quartet…  and what the Secretary‑General and Mr. Mladenov have been advocating is a meeting of not only the Quartet but also of the regional, countries in the region.  We feel that this will provide a conducive platform for Israelis and Palestinians to talk without preconditions, but obviously, any meeting of the Quartet would need the green light of all the members of the Quartet to proceed.

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Question:  Okay, Steph.  I have two questions or…  second is a query.  The first question, coming back to the Quartet, clearly, it’s been made clear by the Secretary‑General how urgent he sees the situation.  It is pretty clear that 14 out of 15 members of the Security Council absolutely share his position.

So, why, as Mr. Mladenov’s office is the coordinator for all the peace process, why does he just not order, call, a Quartet meeting with regional players and just say, we’re having it this day, and if only three of the four turn up of the Quartet, so be it?

Spokesman:  That’s really, you know, the Quartet functions, I think, as a unit.  To…  let me put it this way.  For any Quartet to function, whether political or musical, you need four, you need the four parts of the Quartet to be there.

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Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  My first question is, do you see the SG will be taking a further step and contacting [inaudible] will be giving a phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu or President Abbas to seed the chances for a meeting?  That’s my first question.

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General, and especially his Special Representative, Mr.  Mladenov, have been deeply engaged with the parties at various levels, and I think our message publicly and our message privately are completely in sync, and the Secretary‑General could not have been more clear today.

Your second question, sir.

Question:  The second question, yesterday, Stéphane, Ahmed Mustafa Erekat, 27-year-old Palestinian, it was his sister’s wedding night.  He went to Bethlehem to bring his sister and mother from the salon; however, the Israeli checkpoint gunned him down in cold blood.  Are you aware of this crime?  Did it make any [inaudible] within the…

Spokesman:  I just saw the press report.  I mean, we, obviously, feel that this needs to be investigated fully, and I will check with Mr. Mladenov if there’s anything else.

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For information media. Not an official record.