For the sake of children, Palestinian children, and Israeli children, the world must do better.
Diplomacy must do better.
Save the Children reported Sunday that nearly 3,200 children were killed in Gaza in just three weeks. 1,000 more are missing, presumed dead. On the Israeli side, at least 30 children have been killed. Every child’s death is one too many. Children bear no responsibility for the situation and must be protected.
We grieve with Israeli and Palestinian parents, and can only imagine the desperation and sorrow caused by the loss of their loved ones. People on both sides deserve to live in peace and security.
Two issues need to be crystal clear:
- All parties must act in accordance with international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians caught in the midst of hostilities. Even wars have rules.
- All lives are equal and there is no hierarchy between them.
This is essential, not only for the protection of civilians today, but for the future for both Israelis and Palestinians. How people are treated during the conflict can determine the prospects for a political solution that can lead to durable peace.
We meet at an extremely critical time. For Israelis and Palestinians, for the Middle East and the world.
Norway has strongly condemned Hamas’ heinous terrorist attacks on 7 October, killing about 1400 people and taking more than 200 hostages. We demand that Hamas and other actors in Gaza release all hostages immediately and unconditionally.
Israel has a right to defend itself against the armed attacks by Hamas. However, we emphasize that the self-defense measures taken must be necessary and proportionate.
Furthermore, all military operations must be conducted in line with international humanitarian law. All parties to armed conflicts have an obligation to protect civilians and civilian objects, including hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure. The scale of the civilian suffering, both physically and mentally, inflicted by the combination of intense Israeli bombardments and a blockade is heartbreaking and unacceptable.
On the basis of this humanitarian catastrophe, we find it difficult to draw any other conclusion than that the parties to this conflict are not doing enough to comply with their obligations to protect the civilians affected by the ongoing hostilities.
We call on all actors to strictly adhere to the international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack. We also call on the parties to ensure safe, rapid and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance and essential services for all civilians in need in the Gaza Strip.
All parties to the conflict must make sure that the civilian population can uphold the bare necessities of life, even in the midst of war.
Opening the Karem Shalom border crossing would also improve humanitarian access while safeguarding Israel’s legitimate security concerns. On the Egyptian side, we encourage accepting the offer of international humanitarian staff to complement and boost the impressive work of the Egyptian Red Crescent.
We commend the courage and resilience of Palestinian health and humanitarian workers, volunteers for their heroic efforts to save lives, while risking their own. We mourn with the families of those who tragically lost their lives in their pursuit for humanity, peace, and a better world for others. We must honor their memory by giving it our best.
Diplomacy must do better.
We are deeply concerned about the increase in violence in the West Bank, including from Israeli settlers. The consequences of a further escalation of violence and potential destabilization in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the broader Middle East region would be devastating. Norway is closely following the violence on the border between Lebanon and Israel. We call on all actors in the region to contribute to de-escalation to prevent a (wider) regional conflict.
The UN’s role is indispensable in this crisis. The UN family on the ground is making tremendous efforts to deliver on the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s population, under impossible circumstances. UNWRA, despite years of underfinancing, is making an absolutely crucial contribution. We encourage all member states to respond to appeals for additional financial support, to ensure that the UN can maintain and scale up its response.
We regret the Security Council’s inability to come together to recommend actions to de-escalate and alleviate the grave humanitarian situation. The veto should never prevent the UN from having a voice to fulfill its mandate.
It is therefore vital that the General Assembly has taken up its responsibility, adopting a resolution calling for a durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities. Norway voted in favor of this resolution, in light of the gravity of the situation on the ground, in particular regarding the humanitarian catastrophe we see evolving in Gaza. The violence must stop. [We hope the Council will take up its responsibility.
On 25 October, as Chair of the AHLC, Norway hosted an informal meeting among international partners in the international donor group for Palestine. There was broad agreement among participants about the urgency of providing humanitarian assistance and ensuring access to Gaza. The need to continue our support to the Palestinian Authority, its institutions and service delivery to the Palestinian people was another clear call from the meeting.
Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing war, there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The solution can only be political. There must be a credible political path. The only viable solution to achieve lasting peace, security, and self-determination for both peoples, is a negotiated two-state solution.
Even in the middle of a war there is a need to discuss ways to build a credible path towards peace.
The children in Palestine and Israel are paying the highest price. They are being traumatized by this war for life.
These children will one day be the leaders that we all depend on for a peaceful Middle East.
President, I reiterate one last message; diplomacy must do better.