United Nations General Assembly: Informal plenary meeting on the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

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

Mr President,

We welcome the resolution passed by the UN Security Council last Wednesday. We are disappointed that the Council struggled for so many weeks to come to agreement, given the urgency of the current crisis and the pressing need for the Council to speak promptly, firmly and with one voice.

New Zealand strongly supports the Security Council’s calls for urgent steps to enable unhindered humanitarian access and for the protection of civilians and children. It is the Council’s responsibility to lead on international peace and security - this is but a first step.

Food and water must get to those who desperately need it, fuel must get into generators and medical support must be available to those who need it. What has been possible so far is nowhere near enough. We must see more aid and more supplies going into Gaza. Ensuring humanitarian access is a key requirement of international humanitarian law and we call on all parties to facilitate the necessary access immediately, to alleviate the plight of civilians in Gaza. 

New Zealand re-states our unequivocal condemnation of the Hamas terrorist attacks on 7 October and our call for the unconditional release of hostages.

While acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself, international humanitarian law sets out the rules as to what is permissible. The loss of life and the level of suffering that we are seeing is devastating. It is distressing that UN and humanitarian workers have been killed or wounded while carrying out their critical work on the ground.

We are gravely concerned by the recent reports of attacks on or around medical facilities in Gaza, including on the Jordanian field hospital. New Zealand has consistently called for all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, including the need to ensure the protection of all medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities, in line with Security Council Resolution 2286. Medical facilities must never be used for military purposes and must never be the object of attack. This is fundamentally about basic humanity and respect for human life.

Accountability for any violations of international law is vital. This is why New Zealand maintains its long-standing support for the International Criminal Court, including its ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine, which includes the horrific events of 7 October.

New Zealand voted in support of the recent resolution passed during the Emergency Special Session, which called for urgent provision of humanitarian supplies and an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities”. We want an end to the violence and want to see steps towards a ceasefire, but regret that the political conditions do not presently exist for one. Our collective responsibility has to be to limit the suffering and to end the fighting.

Since 7 October, New Zealand has announced two rounds of humanitarian support, totalling 10 million New Zealand dollars, to agencies working on the ground to help meet the needs of affected populations in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge the efforts and courage of those organisations and individuals engaged in this important work. We extend our deep condolences with respect to the many UN and other humanitarian workers who have tragically lost their lives in the recent violence. 

Thank you, Mr President.


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