22 APRIL 2021

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

You will have seen that back here, Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, spoke to the Security Council via videoconference and he mentioned the need for holding of credible Palestinian elections is a crucial step towards renewing the legitimacy of national institutions and re-establishing Palestinian national unity.  He encourages international support for this effort.

He noted that the UN has engaged regularly with the Palestinian parties and the Central Elections Commission to facilitate preparations for the elections and will continue its support for the election process, adding that he is seriously concerned by the significant rise in active COVID-19 cases in Gaza.

For his part, Rein Paulsen, the Acting Director of OCHA’s (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Coordination Division, said that cases in Gaza have increased by 150 per cent in April, with 187 deaths.  Gaza now has 66 per cent of all active cases in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, despite being only 30 per cent of the population.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  As you may know, the Palestinians insist to organize the elections in their… in all their territories, including East Jerusalem.  However, the Israelis refuse that, and the Palestinians are saying either elections in all territories or no elections.  Any comment on that?

Spokesman:  Well, I mean, I would refer you back to what Mr. Wennesland said very clearly in his remarks to the Security Council not too long ago, is that it is very important that Palestinians, in all parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, are able to participate in this very important democratic process.

Question:  However, the Palestinians are saying, if there will be no elections in East Jerusalem, there will be no elections at all… [cross talk]

Spokesman:  I think we’ve seen different public statements.  First of all, these are elections organized by the Palestinian Authority through its central electoral commission.  We’ve been in touch with the commission.  It is very important that everyone who is entitled to participate, every Palestinian in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is able to cast his or her vote.

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For information media. Not an official record.