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Security Council Statement on the Situation in the Middle East

Statement by H.E. Thórdur Aegir Óskarsson,
Deputy Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

United Nations Security Council
9452nd Meeting, 24 October 2023
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question


Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this important debate. Our thanks to the distinguished briefers for their contribution.

Iceland is appalled by the recent hostilities in Israel and Palestine and deeply concerned over the risk of further escalation. Yet another great tragedy is unfolding for the millions of Israelis and Palestinians.

We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands of civilians, including children, that have been killed. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza. Sadly, the atrocities are fuming the flames of hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism across the World.
Iceland has condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric acts committed by Hamas. Let’s be clear: Terrorism can never be justified. Hostages should be released immediately and unconditionally.

We have also reiterated that while Israel has a clear right to defend itself, it must do so within the bounds of international law. International law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred.

Mr. Chair,

International humanitarian law must be respected and upheld at all times. Alleged breaches thereof must be carefully investigated. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured, and civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected.

Iceland has responded to United Nations emergency appeals with an additional contribution of 70 million ISK to UNRWA, a long-standing humanitarian partner and the lead UN agency mandated with supporting Palestine refugees.

We urge other donors to step up their support to UNRWA’s critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.

Mr. President,

We call on all parties to break out of this ongoing cycle of violence and work towards a sustainable political solution based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters.

The international parameters for a sustainable solution to the conflict are clear. The end destination is well known, but the road itself is in serious need of reconstruction. We need a credible process towards a two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.

This will not be achieved while Israel continues its settlement policies in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza.

This will not be achieved while Hamas continues to use its position in Gaza to fan the flames of radicalism and wage terror on innocent civilians.
This month’s tragic events in Israel and Palestine remind us once again of the urgent need to put the peace process back on track. Otherwise, we run the risk of the violence continuing and conditions deteriorating even further.

Thank you.


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