26 APRIL 2021

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

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Middle East

Over the weekend, Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, voiced his alarm at the recent escalations in Jerusalem and around Gaza.  He condemned all such acts of violence and reiterated his call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan and this politically charged time for all.

He said that the provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease.  The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centres violates international law and must stop immediately, he added.

The UN is still actively working to de-escalate the situation.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Today, Israel decided to shut off the beaches of Gaza to prevent fishermen to go on their daily life in trying to find some fishing.  The number of people injured in Jerusalem, over 135.  And the whole world has been commenting on what’s going on in Jerusalem except the United Nations.  And when I ask Mr. Stéphane Dujarric last Friday, he took me back to the statement of Mr. Wennesland… to Mr. Tor Wennesland, which was three days or two days before but has nothing to do with what happened in Jerusalem.  So, why is there is no specific statement from the Special Coordinator about what’s going on now in Jerusalem?

Spokesman:  Well, regarding what’s happening, we, that is to say the Secretary-General and we in the Secretariat, reiterate Special Coordinator Wennesland’s statement of Saturday, in which he expressed alarm at the recent escalations in Jerusalem and around Gaza and called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalations, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan, and we continue to make that call.

And meanwhile, Mr. Wennesland will continue with his work to de-escalate tensions.  He met with Israeli officials today, and he’s going to travel tomorrow to Jordan and Egypt for further discussions.  So, he is continuing with his work, and we are continuing to speak out in support of him.

Mr. Sato?

Question:  Can you confirm, Mr. Haq, that he received a letter from the Israeli officials threatening Gaza of major escalation if they don’t stop these rockets fired at the Israeli towns and settlements?

Spokesman:  No, I don’t have any confirmation of that.  Like I said, he did meet with the Israeli officials this morning, so he is in discussions with them, and he will be in discussions with Jordanian and Egyptian officials, as well.

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For information media. Not an official record.