Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Tenth Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly
41th Meeting, 27 October 2023
We are convening this Emergency Special Session meeting against the backdrop of another great tragedy for millions of Israelis and Palestinians and a disappointing impasse in the Security Council.
Iceland supported the amendment proposed by Canada, which would have added a much-needed context and balance to the resolution. Iceland regrets that the amendment did not pass.
Without the inclusion of those essential elements, Iceland decided to abstain on the resolution tabled by Jordan despite supporting many of its key elements, notably on the humanitarian front.
It is unfortunate that consensus could not be reached on a resolution to address the grave humanitarian situation and the need for concrete action to protect civilians and facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Iceland joins the calls for humanitarian pause to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured. Civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected.
We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands, including women, children and UN personnel, that have been killed. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza.
We must prevent further escalation, for the sake of Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider region. Across the world, this continuous violence is fuming the flames of hate, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism.
Iceland is grateful to the UN Secretary-General for his tireless efforts to ensure the urgent delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza. We echo his calls for humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza so desperately in need of food, water, shelter, and medical care.
We welcome the opening of the Rafah crossing and we commend the humanitarian personnel working night and day to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. More aid is needed, and it is needed now. Time is running out.
Iceland has responded to UN emergency appeals with an additional contribution to UNRWA, our 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.
We must break out of this vicious cycle of violence and work towards a sustainable political solution. The international parameters for a long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict are clear: A two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.
Even in the midst of crisis, we must not give in to violence and hate. We must not lose hope even when peace seems unrealistic and distant. We must put the peace process back on track. Otherwise, we run the risk of perpetuating the cycle of violence and humanitarian conditions deteriorating even further – to the detriment of everyone.