United Nations General Assembly: Veto Initiative meeting – The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

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

Mr President,

We meet again today to discuss the use of the veto, in the context of the crisis in Gaza.

An immediate humanitarian ceasefire that allows an accelerated flow of desperately needed aid, the release of hostages, and a safe environment for civilians is urgently needed. The General Assembly has been clear in calling for this during recent meetings of the tenth Emergency Special Session.

New Zealand supports all efforts to bring the conflict to an end and hopes that, from a temporary cessation in hostilities, a sustained ceasefire can follow.

We emphasise the importance of negotiations to bring about an end to the fighting. All parties to the talks must reach agreement without delay.

New Zealand appreciates the efforts of key parties, particularly Qatar, Egypt and the United States, to free hostages and agree a cessation of hostilities.

However, we meet again this week due to the use of the veto to block a resolution that had the clear and strong backing of the UN Security Council.

New Zealand welcomed key elements of the Algerian-led draft resolution, including the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

New Zealand is a long-standing opponent of any use of the veto. Therefore, we are deeply disappointed that we must meet again under the Veto Initiative, only two months after last meeting.

New Zealand has actively supported the Veto Initiative from its inception, and we remain a proud proponent of 76/262.

While we welcomed the adoption of Security Council Resolutions 2712 and 2720, the Council is not living up to its important responsibilities under the UN Charter. The Council acts on behalf of all Member States and is accountable to all Member States. Its credibility, and that of the United Nations as a whole, is at stake. We ask the Permanent Members to reflect on that responsibility.

We need to do better. Now is a time for unity and common purpose to resolve this crisis and bring respite to the population caught in its midst.

Civil order is on the brink of collapse in parts of Gaza. Warnings of famine and reports on the desperation of Gazans are horrifying. It is clear -  insufficient aid is reaching the civilian population.

The protection of civilians is paramount, and a requirement for all parties under international humanitarian law. There must be safe and unimpeded humanitarian access into and throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Israel must comply with the ICJ’s orders of provisional measures on 26 January and its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A negotiated political solution is needed to achieve lasting peace and security for Israel and Palestine. There is overwhelming support in the international community for a future Palestinian state. We are concerned by recent rhetoric from senior members of Israel's government that would deny Palestinians a state of their own.

New Zealand will continue to firmly oppose developments that imperil a two state solution, such as the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the forcible displacement of Palestinian civilians from Gaza.

Finally, Mr President,

If resolution 76/262 is re-activated in the future, it will once again be incumbent on members of the General Assembly to continue to exercise our collective political responsibility under the UN Charter to address matters of international peace and security.

Thank you.


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