28 JUNE 2021
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Turning to Gaza. Tor Wennesland, our UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, announced that, under the UN framework, the Qatari-funded fuel deliveries for the Gaza Power Plant are resuming today. That is in accordance with the previous agreement between the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the State of Qatar.
Mr. Wennesland welcomed all steps taken to de-escalate the situation. The UN will continue to work with all concerned parties and partners to solidify a ceasefire and help the people of Gaza.
Questions and Answers
Question: I can give you another question now, which is Palestine and protests against the Palestinian Authority, a large-scale protest. There seems to be all sorts of cases of beatings and arrests of protesters; the UN’s reaction to that, too?
Spokesman: Okay, we’ve seen the reports of the air strikes, the US air strikes in the Iraqi-Syria border area. The Secretary-General remains concerned about the volatile situation in the area and the region, in fact. He renews his call for all concerned sides to exercise restraint and avoid any risks of escalation, which could undermine the ongoing diplomatic efforts at finding a peaceful solution to the region’s tensions.
On Gaza, we honestly have been following this very closely.
Correspondent: Sorry, the question was more about the West Bank.
Spokesman: The West Bank, I’m sorry, sorry. You know, it’s literally I need an IFB, like an anchor, so people can tell me what to say as it comes in. But thank you for pointing me in the right area. We are obviously following very closely. And we have seen… I think we have all seen the images coming out of the West Bank. I think the conduct of the Palestinian security forces is concerning. This, obviously, follows the death of the former parliamentary candidate, Nizar Banat, who died in unclear circumstances, as it were, right now, in the custody of Palestinian security forces. We have our human rights colleagues on the ground who witnessed both Palestinian security forces and nonuniformed persons using force against protesters, as well as journalists and human rights officers, who are themselves documenting the event. Several people have been injured, as you probably have seen. We call on the Palestinian Authority to ensure that security forces ensure freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly. And that any excessive use of force is investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Question: I will ask about Gaza. Do you know why the reconstruction process has not kicked off in Gaza after the recent escalation?
Spokesman: Look, obviously, it’s a very complex situation, where various parties have to manage and be managed. We would like to see reconstruction start as quickly as possible. I think the start of the fuel deliveries that we saw today and are expecting again tomorrow are a positive sign, in the sense that ensuring that the Gaza power plant has electricity to function is sort of the backbone, in a sense, of any reconstruction. Because you need electricity for everyday living, but you need electricity and power for reconstruction.
My understanding is that eight trucks with fuel went through today. Sixty trucks are expected this week. The power plant uses fuel for electricity. The average daily amount of electricity currently generated by the Gaza power plant is about 60 to 70 per cent of the amount generated before the latest conflict. We understand a third turbine was turned on a bit earlier today, about 1 p.m. local time, with total electricity supplies from the power plant and other sources now returning to about 14 hours a day. That’s up just recently from about 11 to 12 hours a day.
Question: A follow-up: I heard here in New York and now Reuters reports, quoting an Israeli official, that Israel has a condition here that the reconstruction would be eased or facilitated if the Palestinian groups in Gaza release or engage in the releasing of the four Israelis, I think two soldiers and two others released, who were captured in Gaza.
Spokesman: We’ve seen these press reports. As I’ve said, the reconstruction issue from our end is, I mean, from anyone’s end is a complex one, because they are obviously, it’s within a political context. We hope all the parties involved will ensure that reconstruction starts as soon as possible for the benefit of the civilians in Gaza who have already suffered tremendously.
Question: Yeah, I have a follow-up. In fact, James took my question. But my question is: if Mr. Tor Wennesland had any contact with the Palestinian Authority, with Mr. [Mahmoud] Abbas or any of his associates about what happened from the minute that Nizar Banat was assassinated to the present?
Spokesman: My understanding is that contacts were had with the Palestinian Authority.
For information media. Not an official record.
Document Sources: Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Global Communications, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
Subject: Access and movement, Assistance, Casualties, Energy, Gaza Strip, Governance, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Humanitarian relief, Incidents, Legal issues, Living conditions, Prisoners and detainees
Publication Date: 28/06/2021
URL source: https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/db210628.doc.htm