United Nations Security Council: Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

New Zealand Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative, Justin Fepuleai.

Madam President,

Thank you for organising today’s debate. Thank you to the Secretary-General for his briefing.

The situation in Gaza is a humanitarian disaster.

The loss of life is appalling.  

Conditions for Gazan civilians, the vast majority of whom are now displaced, are intolerable.

Parties to this conflict have obligations under international humanitarian law. New Zealand has strongly condemned Hamas’ shocking attacks on Israel. We call again for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages held in Gaza.

We support Israel’s right to defend itself. But in doing so it is obligated to protect civilians and ensure its military action is targeted and proportionate.

Israel also has responsibilities under the fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that the civilian population of Gaza has the necessary essentials of life.

Conditions on the ground, however, are preventing the humanitarian response from keeping up with the enormous level of need.

We continue to hear that nowhere is safe in Gaza. Civilians, humanitarian actors, healthcare workers and journalists must be protected. There needs to be appropriate and reliable deconfliction systems to ensure safe movement for humanitarian actors and goods.

Responders need unimpeded access. It is unacceptable that denials and burdensome inspection and approvals processes are delaying the delivery of vital, life-saving assistance.

Multiple functional supply lines for aid are critical. Responders must be allowed to get aid into Gaza and to deliver it to wherever it is needed, including the north of Gaza. Similarly, a restoration of communications networks and other essential services are required to aid the response. 

We again call on Israel to facilitate safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance and protection immediately, and to work constructively with the UN and other humanitarian actors.

New Zealand was pleased to see the Security Council adopt Resolution 2720 last month. We welcome the appointment of Sigrid Kaag as Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza and offer our full support for her important work ahead.

We call on the Security Council to rise above politics and point scoring to advance the cause of peace.

The single best way to alleviate civilian suffering is to stop the fighting. New Zealand has supported the calls in both the Security Council and the General Assembly for humanitarian pauses or truces, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

New Zealand has repeatedly called for urgent efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire. We repeat these calls today.

The risks of the wider region being further drawn into this conflict are alarmingly high and of deep concern. We are particularly concerned about the situation along the Blue Line.

Madam President,

New Zealand firmly supports the vision laid out in numerous Security Council resolutions, most recently in 2720, of a two state solution with Israel and Palestine living “side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders”.

We must hold onto this vision. Achieving it is not impossible, but it will require steps from all parties. Gaza must never again be a platform for terrorism. There must be no displacement of Palestinians and no reduction in Palestinian territory.

Israel must ask itself whether its current efforts to protect its legitimate security interests will ultimately make its people more, or less, secure. The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians. That will not break the cycle of radicalisation and division.

Thank you Madam President.


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