Hoppa yfir valmynd

Explanation of Vote: Tenth Emergency Special Session (resumed) of the UN General Assembly

Explanation of Vote by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Tenth Emergency Special Session (resumed) of the UN General Assembly 
49th Plenary Meeting, 10 May 2024. 
Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Arab Territory




Mr. President,

In 2011, Iceland and Palestine established full diplomatic relations after the Icelandic Parliament passed a resolution in support of recognizing the State of Palestine as a sovereign state. Since then, Iceland’s position on Palestinian statehood has been clear.

Iceland has consistently called for a two-state solution, where both Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition. Therefore, we support Palestine’s full membership of the United Nations and the call for the Security Council to reconsider the matter favorably. We also call on the Council to do more to live up to its mandate and address the Middle East Peace Process. 

This is why we voted in favor of today’s resolution.

Mr. President,

Just as Iceland has consistently condemned Hamas’ past indiscriminate terrorist attacks, we condemned, in the strongest terms, the horrific attack on Israel on October 7th. We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken in this most fatal attack on Jews since the Holocaust. 

In 1947, Iceland’s first Permanent Representative to the United Nations was instrumental in passing Resolution 181, envisioning the formation of independent Arab and Jewish states. Subsequently, Iceland supported Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949. 

Ever since, Iceland has reiterated Israel’s clear right to defend itself, in line with the UN Charter and international law, including international humanitarian law. 

We also recognize the legitimate security concerns of Israel. Israel’s right to exist is beyond debate. We can never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, which led to the creation of the state of Israel, especially now as we face extreme increase in antisemitism.

At the same time, we recognize the injustice of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza – we once again call on Israel to put an end to this and take action to stop settler violence. Freedom of the media also needs to be respected.

Mr. President, 

Ultimately, international law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred. Iceland expects the two states, Israel and Palestine, to enjoy – and respect – both.

In the past months, the world has witnessed hindered access for humanitarian aid, water, and power to Gaza. There have been reports of civilian infrastructure and hospitals being used for purposes that can deprive them of their protection under international humanitarian law. And, we have witnessed totally unacceptable losses of the lives of civilians – children, aid and health care workers, journalists and UNRWA staff. All of these constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.

The figures are shocking: after six months of war, over 35 thousand people have died in Gaza. More than 2 million civilians are desperately in need of life-saving aid. Civilian infrastructure is in ruins. And if Israel’s large-scale military campaign in Rafah materializes, the situation is bound to get even worse. We therefore urge Israel to halt its operations in Rafah.

Iceland condemns all violations of international law, including international humanitarian law. Again, international law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred.

We must restore respect for international law, including humanitarian law, which binds all parties to armed conflicts and cannot be derogated from. The civilians in Gaza must be protected, in accordance with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Security Council resolutions 2712 (2023), 2720 (2023) and 2748 (2024) must be implemented.

Mr. President,

Mindful of how seemingly insurmountable grievances have been overcome during our lifetimes, there is hope for the two states to live side by side in peace. 

The people of Palestine and Israel deserve to live in peace and security, in prosperous and democratic societies. They deserve to live without fear of aggression or terrorist attacks. 

We therefore call on Israel and Hamas to urgently agree to and implement a sustained ceasefire and commend all efforts to try to bring an agreement to fruition.
Today’s resolution will not immediately change the situation on the ground, but it recognizes that peace will not be achieved through unilateral means. It calls for more to be done and determines that there is no better path towards peace than the two-state solution. 

In this context, Mr. President, Palestine should qualify and be welcomed as the 194th UN Member State.

I thank you.


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