Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

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We thank Special Coordinator Wennesland and Head of UNTSO, Major General Patrick Gauchat, for their assessments of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, where for two and a half months by now an unprecedented in terms of casualties slaughter has been taking place.

Ten days have passed since the previous meeting of the Council on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on December 8. The number of victims has increased even further in that time. To date, about 19,000 people have been killed since the beginning of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, with 70 % of the victims being women and children, and 90 % of the population of the Gaza Strip (1.9 million people) being internally displaced. Even Israeli hostages become victims of indiscriminate Israeli actions. Add to that an all-out blockade of Gaza, including the disruption of communications and severe restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid. The enclave is facing severe shortages of water, fuel and medicine. Public order is about to collapse.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom confirms that no one and nowhere is safe in Gaza. Of the 36 medical facilities, only 8 “partially functioned” until the last moment, but without water or electricity supply. The loss of personnel also speaks eloquently of what is happening in Gaza – ICRC and UN staff have been killed along with entire families, including infants. About 90 UN facilities have been attacked, and not once. 133 UN staff members have been killed, which makes the largest single-time loss since the UN was founded, according to the Organization’s data. OCHA chief Martin Griffiths admitted that the disaster in Gaza was “the worst thing he had ever seen,” especially since people had nowhere to go and the stated goal of destroying Hamas was not achieved.

As reported by the media, Israel has dropped some 29,000 bombs on Gaza, which can be compared to the number of shells dropped by the US and UK during the entire military aggression in Iraq in 2003.

Shocking news has arrived from the Communication Office of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. On December 16, 2023, a sniper of the IDF murdered two Christian women inside the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where the majority of Christian families has taken refuge since the start of the war. Seven more people were shot and wounded as they tried to protect others inside the church compound. Eyewitnesses say that no warning or notification had been provided. On the same day, a rocket fired from an IDF tank targeted the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Theresa (Missionaries of Charity). The Convent is part of the church compound, which was signaled as a place of worship since the beginning of the escalation. Such attacks take place as the whole Church prepares to celebrate Christmas on 25 December.


Against the backdrop of the disaster in Gaza, which is caused by Israeli actions, the developments in the West Bank have been somewhat shifted to the backburner. However, violence is also raging there. Forceful raids of the Israeli Armed Forces and brutal attacks by Israeli settlers continue. A raid by the Israeli military in the Nur Shams refugee camp resulted in the killing of five Palestinians in the past 24 hours alone. On the eve of December 18, another 17-year-old Palestinian was killed in the Farah camp. Thus, since October 7, the total number of victims of the so-called “Israeli operations” in the West Bank has reached at least 293.

In that context, we should like to emphasize that Israel has been cleansing the West Bank for a long time. That started even before the events of 7 October and is not linked linkage to the terrorist threats to security under the slogan of which West Jerusalem is holding an unprecedented operation in the Gaza Strip.

In parallel to this, demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank continue unless they have Israeli building permits, which are almost impossible for local residents to obtain. West Jerusalem’s illegal settlement policy continues unabated, including the financing of the expansion of Israeli settlements. Such plans receive approval from the Israeli authorities while systematic destruction continues in Gaza.


The scale of the human catastrophe in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone forced the UN Secretary-General to resort to his authority under Article 99 of the UN Charter and call on the UN Security Council to adopt a decision to stop the bloodshed. However, despite the efforts of the overwhelming majority of the Security Council members, all the proposed drafts were blocked by Washington, which, instead of assisting civilians, massively supplies Israel with all kinds of weapons that end up killing peaceful Palestinians.

By now, it should have become obvious to everyone that the stalling of collective efforts within the UN is not due to any objective institutional problems, but solely to the hard-headed and selfish ambitions of the American leadership. It is no exaggeration to say that there is a global consensus on the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The only state other than Israel that opposes it and thus opposes the entire international community is the United States.

Since the tragic events of October 7, Washington’s policy in the region has reached a strategic deadlock. The Hamas offensive, for which there is and can be no justification, cannot be viewed in isolation from Israel’s actions to build and expand settlements in the Palestinian territories, as well as the failed US policy of ignoring the Palestinian problem and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for an own state – the actions aimed at undermining the international legal basis for a Middle East settlement, including the two-state solution. On the tipping of Washington, UNSC resolutions promising Palestinians a state have been sabotaged by Israel for decades against the backdrop of the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and the confiscation of Palestinian land and property. It is against this backdrop, as well as the ongoing years-long blockade of Gaza, that several generations of Gazans have grown up in complete isolation.

The position of the Russian Federation is consistent. We value our historically close relations with both Palestinians and Israelis. We condemn any terrorist acts and any indiscriminate use of force against civilians and civilian objects. We advocate a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, safety of the civilian population and a release of detainees.

This being said, we have consistently maintained our position in favor of the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, coexisting in peace and security with Israel. Our approach is based on the international legal framework for the Middle East settlement, including UNSC and UNGA resolutions.

Besides, we call for the implementation of the only Security Council “product” on Gaza that has been adopted so far, resolution 2712, which, for all its weaknesses, at least contains a binding call on the parties to establish a humanitarian pause. It is necessary to ensure international monitoring of the implementation of this decision of the Council under the auspices of the United Nations. We are grateful to the Secretary-General for elaborating options for monitoring of this decision. We are considering them carefully. We trust that the Council will soon be able to decide which option to choose and will take a decision in the form of a resolution.

Thank you.

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