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UN closely following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

Secretary-General closely following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is following attentively the process of Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank and he is hopeful that it will be executed in a peaceful and smooth manner, building on the coordination efforts of James Wolfensohn, the Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement, his spokesman said today.

“The Secretary-General believes this is a moment of promise and hope. Success will demand statesmanship of the highest order, on a sustained basis, on the part of all concerned,” his spokesman said in a statement delivered at the noon briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The disengagement, which is to be the first Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory, began today and is expected to last into the month of October.

Quartet members – the UN, European Union, Russia and United States – which sponsored the peace plan calling for a two-State solution to the Middle East crisis have been briefed by Mr. Wolfensohn about the progress achieved in the past two months and the considerable work that remains ahead, the statement said.

They have been discussing the role of the international community in promoting a revitalization of the peace process. They will meet in mid-September to assess matters jointly, the statement added.

In response to a question at the noon briefing for journalists, the spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the UN had pulled non-essential staff out of Gaza temporarily and relocated them in Jerusalem.

“Those people who have been relocated perform administrative functions, mostly for UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), but (also) some other UN agencies in Gaza. In that relocation, great care has been taken so that the temporary relocations have no effect on the operational activities of UN agencies working in Gaza,” Mr. Dujarric said.

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