Informal briefing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk following his visit to the Middle East
Statement by Norway on behalf of Norway and Iceland
16 November 2023
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of Iceland and my own country Norway.
We commend High Commissioner Türk for going to the region and for taking a clear stance in favour of international humanitarian law and protection of civilians, and for giving voice to all those affected by the disastrous impact of this conflict.
We also commend UN staff on the ground, working under near impossible circumstances.
First, Norway and Iceland have condemned Hamas’ heinous terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms and called for the immediate release of all hostages.
Second, we also express our grave concern for the situation of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The lack of food, electricity, water and health care is nothing short of a disaster. Humanitarian access must be dramatically improved. We have called for a humanitarian ceasefire to make such access possible.
We find it difficult to draw any other conclusion than that the parties to this conflict are not doing enough to comply with their international humanitarian law obligations. Rules apply, also during war. We appreciate, High Commissioner, that you spoke with clarity on this point.
There is no other solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than a political one. Stability in the Middle East cannot be reached without the Palestinian question being addressed.
The war between Israel and Hamas is driving polarization and division. I agree with the High Commissioner - this is a trap, and in no-one’s interest. All lives have equal value. We all have to contribute to mutual respect and tolerance, and keep in mind that there will be a day after where we need to focus on the way forward, a two-state solution.