Statement by Ambassador Woodward at the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Ambassador Barbara Woodward speaks at UN Security Council


Before starting, I recognise that today is Remembrance Day in Israel, and express the hope that this conflict which has cost so many lives on all sides may be brought to a just and peaceful end. I thank Tor Wennesland for his briefing and also acknowledge the presence of Foreign Minister Malki earlier with us.

Sadly, in recent weeks we have witnessed violence that is unacceptable.  We call on all parties to desist from unilateral measures which undermine peace, stability and the two-state solution.

First, de-escalation remains imperative.  We condemn indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel from terror factions in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon. This year, 19 Israelis have been killed in acts of terrorism and 90 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces.  Among the former, three British-Israeli nationals, members of the same family, were victims of a terror attack in the West Bank on 7 April.  The Palestinian Authority must denounce incitement to violence.  There is never justification for such acts.  Among Palestinian fatalities, a 15-year-old boy was killed near Jericho on 10 April.  While Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence, its security forces must exercise restraint in use of force and investigate all fatalities.

Second, we urge all parties to cease unilateral actions which diminish prospects for peace.  We condemn Israeli security forces’ raids on Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan, injuring many worshippers, and we call on all parties to respect the historic Status Quo and Hashemite custodianship.

Third, we urgently need to redouble efforts towards a long-term peace.  We applaud those laying foundations for dialogue, notably recent Jordanian, Egyptian and US initiatives.  It remains critical that both Israel and the Palestinians respect commitments made, including Israel’s commitment to suspend settlement advancement.  Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.  Our position is reflected in our enduring support for UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

The UK remains committed to working with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and international partners, to bring an end to the terrorism that Israel faces, and the destructive cycle of violence that continues.  Peace will only be sustainable if both Israelis and Palestinians recommit themselves to a negotiated settlement, leading to a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian State.

Thank you.

Published 25 April 2023