21 JULY 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

In a video briefing to the Security Council this morning, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said that, in recent weeks, the region and the broader international community have continued to express their firm rejection of annexation.  He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call on the Israeli Government to abandon plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Mr. Mladenov also added that the Secretary-General and the UN will continue efforts to resuscitate a dialogue among all stakeholders, with no preconditions, and in the interest of peace and a negotiated resolution to the conflict.

Regrettably, Mr. Mladenov said, the situation on the ground is rapidly being impacted by the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel.  The challenges of confronting the rapid increase in cases in the West Bank and boosting prevention efforts in Gaza has been significantly compounded by the ending of coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Mr. Mladenov told Council members.

In response, he noted, the United Nations has engaged with all sides to ensure the continued and unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance.

The Special Coordinator warned that the ferocity of the virus and its devastating human and economic toll demand extraordinary measures — measures that must rise above politics as usual.

His remarks have been distributed to you.

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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  My second question.  Yeah, my second question about Mladenov briefing today to the Council.  In fact, in every briefing, he avoids mentioning the 62 or more bodies kept by Israel of those Palestinians murdered by Israel.

Why is he avoiding this humanitarian issue?  It is a very touching subject to the Palestinians.  Why he doesn’t mention it?

Spokesman:  You know, Mr. Mladenov is not avoiding any subject.  I think he has spoken out on many issues, human rights, humanitarian issues, in the past, and he will continue to do so.

On the specific issue of the bodies, as I said, I’m getting… having some language and, you know, in fact, I think if you were to ask our human rights colleagues, they would also have some language for you, but I hope to have something a little clearer for you soon.

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For information media. Not an official record.