Explanation of Vote by Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, after the Vote at the UNSC Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question

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November 15, 2023

Mr. President,

The UAE welcomes the adoption of today’s resolution, the first one on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2016. It is crucial that this body has come together today around the urgent need to protect civilians, especially children. We recognise that this vote, and this outcome, was only possible after difficult negotiations and compromises made on all sides, and as the Arab member, we want to, again, recognise Malta’s leadership, but also the commitment by each and every Council Member to this product. Over the past week, I’ve seen us all work together across our geographical divides in a way that made this moment possible, and I thank you for that. I believe lives will be saved because of this work.

However, I want to emphasise that the adoption of today’s resolution only begins our response to this war and to this crisis. Too much time has passed, too many people have been killed, and too much destruction has been wrought. It is worth noting here that where Hamas is not operating, Palestinians are also losing their lives on land internationally recognised as part of their future state. During this period, this last 40 days, and largely underreported, almost 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank as a result of settler violence and raids. This must stop and Israel must hold those committing these attacks fully accountable. For the UAE, this resolution will enable our efforts, our humanitarian efforts on the ground, for example, to receive 1,000 Palestinian children and their families for medical treatment in the UAE, and that work has already begun, and we hope to receive the first group within the coming week. It will also be vital for our establishment of an emergency field hospital in the Gaza Strip. We urge all Member States, as well as UN and humanitarian organizations, to utilise this resolution in their efforts to scale up assistance, and to come back to the Council if they need additional support.

It is vital that this body now lives up to its responsibility towards also ensuring its implementation in full.

International law, especially the rules of war, bind all the parties to this conflict. There can be no equivocation on this point.

Israel must cease attacks on civilians and civilian objects; they must uphold the special protections afforded, by international law, to hospitals and schools; and they must ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access.

In this context, we reiterate our condemnation of Israel’s raid on the Al-Shifa Hospital in the last 24 hours, and other attacks on hospitals, and stress that it is precisely this type of military action that today’s resolution rejects. Hospitals are sacrosanct spaces that must be protected. We’ve all received countless, unbearable messages of despair from medical workers in these hospitals, who have stayed and are pleading for their patients to be protected.

Mr. President,

If the parties violate this resolution, we expect, and we will work to ensure, that the Security Council steps in to support its implementation.

But looking ahead, and beyond working towards a more permanent ceasefire, the Security Council, collectively and individually, must prioritise resolving this conflict. Over the last decade, there have been increasingly vocal warnings and signs that the Two-State solution is on its deathbed. What emerges from the ruins of Gaza may be our last chance to save it. But it will need all of us to continue working together, like we have done here today, to resurrect it. The fate of peace and security in our region is a shared responsibility and not the burden of a few.

For Israel, for the Palestinians, the brutal logic that the occupation has forced on its victims and its perpetrators over the long history of this conflict has really brought us to this desperate point of crisis. The fact is, Israel does have an absolute right to security and peace free from the attacks that we saw on the 7th of October, but so does a future Palestine. Israel’s security, genuine and lasting, will remain elusive if it’s built on the continued denial of the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. Any policy that seeks to obscure that fact is doomed to failure.

Thank you.

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