21 DECEMBER 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 know, this morning, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed members of the Security Council.  He told them that the latest humanitarian needs assessment found that almost 2.5 million Palestinians — that’s 47 per cent of the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory — need aid.  Mr. Mladenov said he remains deeply troubled by continued Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  Over the past year, Israeli authorities advanced controversial settlement plans that had been frozen for years.  He added that the total number of units advanced this year are on par with 2019 numbers, despite an eight-month hiatus.  Also, Mr. Mladenov said that violence and attacks against civilians have also continued in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  He said that he’s appalled that children continue to be victims — with a particularly troubling series of incidents over the past months in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  He urged security forces to exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  Hi, Steph.  Thanks very much.  I just want to confirm there’s no announcement from your podium as to the appointment of a new Libyan envoy despite… sorry.  Let me rephrase.  The… Mr. Mladenov said his goodbyes today, but his statement said that his successor should replace him in January.  Is he… has he stepped down?  What is the official status of this?

Spokesman:  I think I’d refer you to what Mr. Mladenov said.  We do expect to have an announcement a bit later on today on the Middle East.  As for Libya, I mean, as we’ve said, I think the Secretary‑General’s very much focussed and continues to attach great importance to the developments in Libya, to the political process, and we hope to name a new Special Envoy soon.

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Question:  I was not napping.  I was listening to you very intently.  I also… I also read Mladenov’s remarks very intently, and I noticed one thing that was missing from his assessment on the Middle East, and that is he didn’t mention at all anything about the most recent agreement between Israel and Morocco, three other countries.  Is it the assessment of the Secretariat and Mladenov, who this was his last briefing, obviously, that these agreements have nothing to do with peace in the Middle East or have no effect over even the Israeli‑Palestinian…?

Spokesman:  No, I don’t… I think the briefing he gave was pursuant to Security Council resolution, I think, speaking off the top of my head, 2339, it was not part of his…

Question2334.

Spokesman:  Resolution 2334.  Thank you.  It was not part of his overall regular briefings that are specific to his mandate, which I think he has mentioned those agreements.  And I think we’ve spoken from here of hoping that these very important agreements are bringing a level of stability and increased cooperation in the region and are also used as an opportunity to re‑engage in the Israeli‑Palestinian dialogue.

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For information media. Not an official record.