OPT: Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, 9 Nov 2008 - Statement issued by the Quartet - Remarks by UN SG at joint press conference following the Quartet meeting

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Q: Do you think that the Quartet can play a role in alleviating the sufferings of Palestinians in Gaza? Thank you.

SG: Thank you very much. As the Secretary-General, I have broad responsibility and a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance to all the people around the world who are in need of such assistance. Particularly, I am deeply distressed about the plight of the civilian population in Gaza. Through the work of several United Nations agencies, including UNRWA [the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization, the United Nations is standing by the people of Gaza and helping them in these difficult times. The Quartet has also made clear its support for a more constructive strategy for Gaza. I have been discussing this matter with Israeli government leaders - Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert and Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni - on many occasions and today I am also going to discuss this matter about the closure of crossings, roadblocks and also settlement issues and the demolition of houses. All these activities are not desirable for the ongoing peace process.

The creation of an atmosphere conducive to the ongoing peace process would be extremely important. The calm brokered by Egypt needs to be respected. I am concerned about the recent violence and call for it to stop immediately. The Palestinian factions must also work together for their national unity and reconciliation, and they must be able to overcome their division. I urge them to work constructively with the parties concerned and the international community, and in this regard I stand ready not only to participate and facilitate the political process but also most importantly to facilitate the ongoing humanitarian assistance to these people.

Q: This is addressed to Mr. Ban Ki-moon. You talked a lot about commitment; however, we understand that the Arab side and the Palestinian side have urged a lot about a mechanism to make this possible and the Annapolis process and also the roadmap. How can you do that without a clear mechanism that is supported by the UN, the international community, to see that actually what has been approved by the parties can be implemented? For example the Palestinians talked seriously about the settlement activity, about the current invasions. You never talked about a mechanism to implement this; is there a mechanism?

SG: I think the most important mechanism is the Quartet, composed of all principals together with Quartet representative Tony Blair. We have been meeting on a regular basis, and we have all other European-sponsored mechanisms, and we have General [Jim] Jones and [Lieutenant General William] Fraser, who have been maintaining these mechanisms to follow and monitor. And through this ongoing progress of the Quartet, as well as by making some meetings with the parties more institutionalized in the future, I think you can be sure of this continuing monitoring and support for bilateral negotiations of the two parties. Thank you.