14 OCTOBER 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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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Yesterday, I ask Farhan [Haq] about the situation of the Palestinian POW, Maher al‑Akhras, who enters today his 80th day of hunger strike, if there is any language from [Nickolay] Mladenov.

Spokesman:  What I can tell you is that Mr. Mladenov, our Special Coordinator on the ground, is deeply concerned about the deteriorating condition of Maher al‑Akhras, a Palestinian being held in Kaplan Hospital, who began a hunger strike over 79 days to protest his administrative detention by Israeli authorities.  The Special Coordinator reiterates his call for all those held under administrative detention to be either charged or released immediately.

Question:  Thank you so much.  And I have another question.  Today, Israel approved building 2,166 units, expanding current settlement or building new settlements.  Are you aware of this development?

Spokesman:  I personally had not seen that report, but our position on settlements remains unchanged.  [He later added:  We are concerned about the reports of Israel’s settlement advancements in the occupied West Bank and will continue to follow developments closely, as the Israeli High Planning Committee finalizes its meetings tomorrow.  The Secretary-General has consistently reiterated that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace.  We urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from such unilateral actions that fuel instability and further erode the prospects for resuming Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.]

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Question:  Thanks.  Just to go back to Israel region, Israeli NGO Regavim has claimed that the UN funds has given its political support to the PA (Palestinian Authority) to illegally build in parts of Area C in what they say is the area of Peduel in Samaria region.  Do you have anything on this, or can you get me something on this, please?

Spokesman:  I will try to get you something on this.  If you could just email me that…  email me some information, I’ll look into it for you.

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For information media. Not an official record.