Delivered by: Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation
Check against delivery.
At the outset, I would like to thank Secretary-General António Guterres for his important statement. I also thank the Special Coordinator, Mr. Tor Wennesland, and the Deputy Special Coordinator, Ms. Lynn Hastings, for their detailed briefings and important efforts during this time.
Our region is witnessing one of the most difficult crises in its modern history. In light of these critical developments, I would like to highlight the following key points which must be the top priorities today:
First, every diplomatic effort must be made, and all capabilities must be harnessed to achieve an immediate and sustainable ceasefire. The continuous escalation of Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip confirms that any delay ending this war means more casualties, further destruction, and the threat of the conflict’s expansion into the region. Armed and extremist groups operating in the region will make every effort to exploit this conflict to achieve their destructive agendas.
We have recently seen growing tensions in the region, including in southern Lebanon, the occupied Syrian Golan, and the Red Sea. An unchecked slide into regional war risks ominous outcomes that will not only put regional security at stake, but they could extend beyond to affect stability around the world.
Therefore, regional, and international efforts must focus on de-escalation and restoring calm as soon as possible. In this regard, we welcome the Cairo Peace Summit held last Saturday, during which we heard growing calls for a ceasefire. We also value the tireless diplomatic efforts made by regional countries and international actors.
Secondly, immediate, safe, sustainable, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip in a manner that meets basic needs. The long-standing and unjust blockade must also end. This is critical to alleviate the catastrophic humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the shutting down of access to electricity, water, and food. The shortage in medical supplies and deterioration of the health sector place patients and premature babies in imminent danger. Fuel must also be allowed, as it is essential for operating hospitals and water facilities, among other necessities.
We appreciate the extensive efforts made by the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United Nations to support the delivery of aid through the Rafah crossing, which resulted in the delivery of several shipments of aid to the Gaza Strip over the past four days. We stress here the need to continue working to deliver more aid to the Gaza Strip, particularly given that the number of trucks that have crossed into the Gaza Strip in recent days is very small and does not meet the massive needs on the ground. It represents only 4 percent of the volume of commodities that entered the Gaza Strip before the outbreak of this crisis.
Thirdly, as the Secretary-General said, wars have laws, the protection of civilians being foremost among them.
So far, more than 5,000 Palestinians, including 2,000 children, have been killed. More than 60 percent of population has been displaced in search of shelter, and no place is safe. In addition, 43 percent of the housing units in Gaza have been destroyed according to the United Nations.
As we have stressed since the beginning of this crisis, Israel must not target civilians and civilian objects, including hospitals, schools, and United Nations facilities. In this regard, we condemn the killing of many journalists, humanitarian workers, and medical personnel, and stress the need to protect them in accordance with international humanitarian law.
We reiterate that the attacks launched by Hamas on October 7 are barbaric and heinous. We demand that Hamas release hostages immediately and unconditionally to stop the bloodshed and spare all civilians from further suffering. At the same time, let me emphasize that Hamas’ crimes against civilians can never justify Israel’s policy of collective punishment towards the Gaza Strip. Israel must respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians.
We reiterate once again our unequivocal rejection of Israel’s orders to evacuate more than one million people from northern to southern Gaza, and we demand that these orders be cancelled. We also warn against any attempts to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from their land, as this can subject them to a new catastrophe or “Nakba”.
As we continue working to stop this war, we must not view it in isolation from the situation that has existed in the Palestinian Territory occupied for almost six decades, as well as the escalations we have witnessed recently.
The Gaza Strip has been under siege for more than 17 years, suffering from hunger, poverty, and unemployment. Since last year, the West Bank has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of deaths and settler attacks against Palestinian civilians. This includes the announcements of building thousands of new settlement units, continuous property demolitions, the displacement of thousands, the threat of annexation plans, and ongoing attacks on Palestinian cities and villages.
This year, Jerusalem has also witnessed an increase in storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremists and members of the Israeli government, with the protection of Israeli security forces.
Creating an environment of peace and stability depends primarily on stopping all illegal practices, taking measures to build confidence between the parties, and resuming a serious and credible negotiation process. The legal and historical status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites must be preserved, and the role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as the custodian of the holy sites and endowments in the city must also be respected.
In conclusion, Mr. President, recent events have demonstrated the urgent need to move beyond futile approaches to manage this conflict. More than fifty years ago, when the war of 1967 broke out, this Council delayed the adoption of a ceasefire resolution, which resulted in creating the world’s longest military occupation, which continues until today. Should we leave the peoples of the region to live in a series of wars, violence, and hatred accumulated from one generation to another?
To avoid this, the United Arab Emirates affirms the importance of adopting a resolution calling for an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire, and to work seriously after that to find a just, lasting, and comprehensive solution to this conflict to allow both peoples to live in lasting peace and security.
The UAE will continue its calls for dialogue, peaceful coexistence, and cooperation as the path to stability in the region. Today, we ask you to support this vision to achieve the aspirations of the region’s peoples towards progress and prosperity.
Today, humanity is facing a critical test. As responsible and conscious leaders, particularly in this Council, we must succeed in this test by advancing the choice of peace and reviving the two-state solution, which is needed more than ever, to achieve the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. We must confront and address the present crisis instead of just managing it. It is illogical that we repeat the same approach towards this conflict and expect different results.