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Use of veto and situation in Gaza

Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Seventy-eighth Session of the UN General Assembly 
59th Plenary Meeting, 5 March 2024.
Use of veto – Item 63: Special report of the Security Council
Debate pursuant to resolution 76/262


Mr. President,

Iceland aligns itself with the statement delivered earlier by Liechtenstein on behalf of a group of countries.

We deeply regret the ongoing impasse in the Security Council and call on Council Members to redouble their efforts to address the grave humanitarian situation and the need for concrete action to protect civilians and facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza.

Iceland’s position has been clear and consistent. We have joined calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access. Humanitarian assistance must reach more than 2 million civilians desperately in need of life-saving aid. It is needed now and must be delivered now.

We also continue to condemn, in the strongest terms, the brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas and call for immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. We have simultaneously called on Israel to fully comply with international law, including international humanitarian law, protect civilians and provide sufficient humanitarian aid, in accordance with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice.

We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the fate of over 30 thousand people, including women and children, who have been killed. Tragically, there is no safe place in Gaza and a military action in Rafah would dramatically worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation. 

After more than four months of war, close to two million people have been displaced, schools have either been destroyed or turned into emergency shelters, healthcare services are in tatters and remaining hospitals are barely operational, with little or no electricity, fuel and medical supplies.

Mr. President,

Under these dire circumstances, Iceland has greatly increased its humanitarian assistance to Gaza through various means and organizations. We fully recognize the unique role of UNRWA in delivering basic services in Gaza and highly appreciate the shift actions by the Agency and the Secretary General in the wake of the serious allegations of the involvement of a number of its employees in the terrorist attacks on Israel in October. We have the fullest confidence in the OIOS internal investigation, and the external review led by Madame Colonna.

Mr. President,

Despite this dire situation, there must be a plan for the day after. Iceland recognized the state of Palestine in 2011 and has consistently advocated for the two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition. 

We need a political process paving the way towards that end. Without it, there is no end to the vicious cycle of violence. Without it, there is no long-term, sustainable solution to this conflict.

Thank you.


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