Statement by UK Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

First, let me start by reaffirming the UK’s commitment to the principles enshrined in UN Security Council resolution 2334 which serves as a clear reinforcement of international support for a two-state solution. The suffering we have seen on, and since, the horrific attacks of October 7, underlines the importance, more than ever, of a diplomatic solution to this conflict which guarantees the safety and security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. We call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages, including the return of those who have died in captivity, and we are appalled by reports of sexual violence and abuse. The UK stands firm in its condemnation of these heinous acts. The best way to get the hostages out is to get a deal done. We also urge Israel to let humanitarian aid enter Gaza through all crossing points immediately and guarantee deconfliction for aid convoys and other humanitarian work. We echo the Secretary General’s tribute to UN workers who have tragically lost their lives in this conflict and we call upon Israel to ensure the protection of UN facilities and staff. The integrity of the UN and its ability to operate is paramount. It serves as a crucial lifeline for the many innocent civilians affected by this conflict.

Second, the UK remains deeply concerned by the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israeli population centres, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. This must stop. We also note with concern the continuing construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. We are clear: these settlements are illegal under international law. We reiterate our call on Israel to immediately and completely stop all settlement activities. We condemn the human rights abuses and incitement of violence against Palestinian communities in the West Bank, where the UK has taken action, in the form of sanctions, against a number of those individuals and groups responsible. We are also deeply concerned by Israel’s suspension of revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority and the risks to correspondent banking relations. Such measures harm chances for peace, security and stability.

Finally, Mr President, as the UK has said throughout, a negotiated pause in the fighting that leads to a sustainable ceasefire, without a return to fighting, is the best way to secure the release of the hostages, enable a significant scaling up of much needed humanitarian aid and leads to a permanent settlement of this issue. There is now a deal on the table, endorsed by this Council in resolution 2735, to achieve those goals. The onus is on Hamas to accept it and end the suffering of the Palestinian people and the remaining hostages. We must then work towards a credible and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security for both nations and the wider region.

Published 25 June 2024