Delivered by: His Excellency Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, Minister of State
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I thank Secretary-General António Guterres and Special Envoy Tor Wennesland for their critical briefings. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the UN and the sacrifices made by its staff to provide assistance to the Gaza Strip during this difficult time.
In an area no larger than 365 square kilometers, more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are enduring an Israeli attack that does not respect human values or adhere to international laws and norms. More than 15,000 targets were bombed in this confined space, killing 14,000 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, according to the United Nations. Medical teams, journalists and humanitarian workers have not been spared. This has profoundly shaken the global conscience in an unprecedented manner.
The scenes of complete destruction in Gaza are horrific and reveal an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Entire neighborhoods have been razed to the ground, along with their residents. Sixty percent of housing units and more than 300 educational facilities were destroyed. Residents stand in long lines hoping to get a piece of bread or a few drops of water, as humanitarian aid is prevented from entering Gaza. The limited assistance that does arrive is a mere “drop in the ocean” compared to the overwhelming needs on the ground.
Even the wounded and the sick have been deprived of their right to health care, as Israel has deliberately and unacceptably targeted hospitals and health facilities, compelling their evacuation. Concurrently, there have been deliberate disruptions to fuel and medical supplies. In sum, these actions have caused the health sector to entirely collapse. Children’s limbs were amputated without anesthesia, premature infants were removed from incubators, and patients in intensive care units died, transforming health facilities into graves.
Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to relocate from northern to southern Gaza amid extremely difficult and dangerous conditions. This occurred despite the absence of any safe havens in the strip, and this painful scene evoked memories of the 1948 Nakba. The fact that nearly 80% of the people in Gaza are displaced since the beginning of the offensive, with over one million people taking refuge in the UNRWA facilities, demonstrates the magnitude of the catastrophe, especially in light of the significant lack of humanitarian aid.
The UAE reaffirms in the strongest terms its condemnation Israel’s collective punishment policy against the Palestinian people, as well as the attempts to displace the Palestinians, which we categorically reject. The future and governance of Gaza must remain in the hands of the Palestinian people. Any presumptions or plans that seek to separate the Gaza Strip from the State of Palestine are unacceptable.
We also stress the need for the international community to adopt unified rules condemning violations of international humanitarian law. This includes the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, civilian objects, and UN facilities. Applying double standards across these matters causes chaos and undermines our international order that is based on the respect for international law and the United Nations Charter. Abiding by the provisions remain critical for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Following weeks of dangerous escalation, the UAE believes that the truce reached by the two parties last week represents a sign of hope, especially given that it included a four-day cessation of hostilities, which was extended for two additional days, as well as a limited amount of aid delivery and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages. It is therefore important to build on this truce, including by scaling up humanitarian aid and agreeing on further extensions to allow sufficient time and space for the implementation of critical humanitarian activities, such as reaching thousands of people trapped under rubble. Simultaneously, ongoing efforts should persist in reaching an immediate and permanent ceasefire.
We express our appreciation to Qatar, Egypt and the United States for their tireless efforts to reach this agreement and their support for its implementation. We value their diplomatic efforts in addressing one of the most difficult crises in the history of our region.
We also stress the importance of ensuring the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 2712, which demands all parties to respect their obligations under international law and calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and the unconditional release of detainees. In this context, we underline the relevance of the Secretary-General’s briefing today and stress the importance of introducing proper monitoring to ensure the effective implementation of this resolution.
It is also necessary to improve mechanisms for the safe, permanent and unhindered entry of aid into Gaza in a sustained manner and at a sufficient scale. This encompasses all relevant channels and crossings, ensuring the distribution of aid to all those in need, without any restrictions or delays. We commend here the efforts of Egypt in facilitating aid access through its side at the Rafah crossing, and allowing the sick, injured, hostages, and other civilians to exit Gaza.
For its part, the UAE continues its humanitarian efforts to alleviate the crisis in Gaza. A few days ago, we began delivering the necessary materials to establish a field hospital in the Gaza Strip under the supervision of a UAE medical team. We welcomed groups of children from Gaza to UAE hospitals. This is part of our initiative to host one thousand children and their families, along with an additional one thousand cancer patients, ensuring they receive the necessary health care. Additionally, we have announced contributions to UNRWA and launched a public campaign to support those affected in Gaza. The campaign has collected more than 1600 tons of relief materials so far that were then delivered to the Gaza Strip.
As the world is focused on the catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip, we must not overlook the worrying conditions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These areas have been facing mounting Israeli aggression since the beginning of this year, resulting in the killing of 400 Palestinians in this year alone. Repeated incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist groups under the protection of the Israeli authorities have become more frequent. Settler violence has also reached unprecedented levels, manifesting in increasingly serious and severe forms, while Israel has bombed refugee camps in Jenin and Nablus, among others. Concurrently, Israel continues to build and expand its settlement activities, further dividing Palestinian land in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.
These illegal practices must stop now. The ongoing turmoil cannot endure additional provocative measures or violence and hate speech. The security of both peoples, as well as the region, is at stake.
The recent events have demonstrated the need for the international community to stop merely managing this conflict. Instead, we must work to revive hope for the possibility of reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive political solution to the Palestinian issue. Moving forward, we must start working to create a suitable environment for resuming serious negotiations, based on the agreed upon references to achieve the two-state solution, so that these steps begin to be implemented immediately after a ceasefire is reached.
We underscore that achieving durable peace will not be possible without ending the Israeli occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories and establishing an independent Palestinian state, based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in security, peace and mutual recognition.
Meanwhile, we must persist in our efforts to prevent the region from sliding into war, which would have resounding repercussions affecting the entire world. Therefore, the ongoing skirmishes in southern Lebanon, the Syrian Golan, and the Red Sea must end. We cannot allow our region to remain hostage to crises and conflicts. Our people deserve to live in security and stability. Our youth aspire for a better future, and in the UAE, we are determined to strive for that.
Thank you, Mr. President.