Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Long before the unjustifiable Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, Gaza was already one of the most desperate places on Earth to live. All Council members have rightly condemned the indiscriminate murder of innocent Israeli civilians and the taking of 199 of them hostage, including children.
We reiterate that condemnation here, but Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or the people of Gaza who are suffering immensely today, and that is why Council unity is so desperately needed on this file.
In January of this year, the UN assessment of humanitarian needs in Gaza stated that 1.3 million people required aid for their basic survival. Half of those were children; almost 60% of the need ranged between severe and catastrophic. In the past decade alone, Gazans have lived through three rounds of major conflict. The children of Gaza have lost hope.
That nightmare was Gaza’s lot 10 months before this outbreak, and today, civilians in Gaza are once again facing a ruinous war with nowhere safe to go.
Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, is besieged, with no access to fuel, electricity, food, water, or medical supplies.
Two million people are now relying on a solitary pipeline for water, as none of the three desalination plants can operate without power.
And, against this terrible backdrop, the international community must recognize that the call for the evacuation of more than one million people who have nowhere safe to go and no assistance, for what it is: An unjustified demand unmeetable in its nature.
Therefore, there is work for this Council to do beyond making statements. At a minimum, this Council should be able to come together around the need to protect all civilians, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the safe provision of humanitarian assistance.
Access to fuel, food, water, medical aid, and other basic necessities must be fully restored. We must create a framework for rapid, unimpeded, and safe humanitarian access for the brave workers who are risking their lives today on the ground.
The call for humanitarian ceasefires is essential for the realization of all of the above.
The draft resolution put forward by the Russian delegation responds to these specific humanitarian needs. That is why the United Arab Emirates voted in favour of it, and that is why we are disappointed that it could not command the support of the Council today. We thank the Presidency for their efforts and we hope that we will be able to come together quickly, and with one voice, on this file for those who so desperately need it on the ground.
We believe this Council should be able to find unity on two things: international humanitarian law must be upheld – indiscriminate attacks must be rejected and are unjustifiable – and the cycle of violence overall must end.
The events of the last 9 days have made it painfully clear that without a determined political horizon, the spectre of bloodshed will continue to haunt both Israelis and Palestinians.
Mahmoud Darwish, the late Palestinian poet, once wrote that “a life only defined by the absence of its antithesis – death – is no life at all.” Palestinians and Israelis deserve not only to live, which is the bare minimum, but to thrive, side by side, in their own independent, prosperous, and secure states.