United Nations General Assembly: Emergency Special Session on the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr President,

New Zealand welcomes the adoption of today’s resolution. In relation to the amendments put forward by the United States and Austria, we wish to register our disappointment that they did not pass.

The amendments would have introduced elements which New Zealand felt would have benefited the resolution, and which remain important to New Zealand’s position on this terrible conflict.

New Zealand has consistently acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ terrorist attacks. We unequivocally condemn these attacks and reiterate that all remaining hostages being held by Hamas must be released immediately and unconditionally.

In defending itself, Israel must respect international law, including international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, must be protected.

New Zealand is gravely concerned about the impact of this conflict on civilians. The loss of life and level of suffering in Gaza is utterly devastating: over a million people with nowhere to go; outbreaks of disease; and overwhelming challenges with nutrition, sanitation, and overcrowding. There is simply not enough water, food, fuel and shelter.

Critical humanitarian assistance must get to those who need it. The sick and injured must be cared for without risk of attack. The basics for survival must not be used, or withheld, as weapons of war.

We thank the Secretary-General, and UN and humanitarian staff, for their leadership, especially those working on the ground in enormously difficult circumstances and under significant constraints. We are distressed that the effective delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza is now almost impossible.

Ensuring meaningful humanitarian access is critical. It is a key requirement of international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We call on Israel to facilitate the necessary access immediately, to alleviate the plight of civilians in Gaza.

Last week the Secretary-General sounded the loudest possible alarm over this crisis. We must answer his call.

It was for this reason – the urgent need for the provision of critical, life-saving assistance - that New Zealand co-sponsored the UAE Security Council resolution, which called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

We are deeply disappointed that the casting of a veto yet again prevented the Security Council from agreeing on a response to a pressing crisis.

The General Assembly has, once again, had to take action where the Security Council has failed to do so.

In this Assembly in late October, New Zealand joined 120 other Member States in voting for a resolution that called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce”, to facilitate the delivery of aid.

Today’s General Assembly Resolution today has the same objective – the fighting to stop and civilians to be protected. Therefore, New Zealand, once again, supported this call and voted for this resolution.

At the same time as we push for a humanitarian ceasefire, we urge all parties involved in the conflict, as well as countries with influence in the region, to take urgent steps towards establishing a sustainable ceasefire.

A lasting solution to the conflict will only be achieved by peaceful means. Revival of the Middle East Peace Process is critical. There is no military solution to this conflict, just as there is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza.

Mr President, two final points.

New Zealand condemns settlement building and expansion in the West Bank, which is illegal under international law, and condemns the violence being perpetrated by settlers. We call for Israel to address this urgently.

New Zealand also urges governments in the region to do all they can to ensure that this conflict does not spill into the wider region.

Thank you, Mr President.


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