UK Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

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We need a sustainable ceasefire that breaks the cycle of violence

Thank you, President, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza and the intense suffering of innocent Palestinian civilians shows no sign of abating. Israel is reckoning with the brutal horror of the 7 October attacks. More than 130 hostages continue to be held by Hamas. Just this morning, I met with the parents of one girl still held hostage, I will carry their words with me for a long time.

As my Prime Minister has said, we need a sustainable ceasefire that breaks the cycle of violence. Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel, all hostages must be released, and aid must flow into Gaza. This is the only way to achieve a sustainable peace based on a two-state solution, in which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security.

President, we are focused on three areas:

First, too many civilians have been killed. Israel must be targeted and precise in its efforts to address the threat posed by Hamas, and should do more to discriminate sufficiently between terrorists and civilians. Civilian infrastructure must be protected in line with international humanitarian law. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have repeatedly delivered this message to Israel, and we will continue to do so.

Second, we need to continue to work on increasing the amount of humanitarian support into Gaza through as many direct routes as possible. The agreement to open Kerem Shalom is welcome. We look forward to its urgent implementation. Israel should also immediately increase the range of humanitarian items allowed into Gaza.

Third, as we heard today, in recent months the violence of extremist settlers in the West Bank has dramatically increased.  Since 7 October, there have been eight Palestinians killed by Israeli settlers, including one child, and at least 1,257 displaced amidst settler violence and access restrictions. We strongly condemn these hateful acts, which undermine prospects for peace. We are banning those responsible for settler violence from entering the UK to make sure our country cannot be a home for people who commit these intimidating acts. Israel also must do more to hold perpetrators of settler violence to account and to end the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property.

And we reiterate our call on Israel to immediately and completely stop all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and its Lower Aqueduct. We are clear, these settlements are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability and delivery of a two-state solution which must become a reality to ensure justice and peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

I thank you.

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