Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question


We thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for providing a detailed account of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israel's operation in Gaza has been going on for nine months now. During that time, more than 37,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed, the number of wounded has passed 86,000, and tens of thousands are missing. More than 1,500 Israelis and foreigners have also died, and 120 hostages are still being held captive. Civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and housing, has been almost completely destroyed.

Turning to the West Bank, the statistics are depressing too - some 600 Palestinians have been killed (130 of them minors) and more than five thousand wounded. Raids by Israeli security forces have resulted in the detention of at least 20 Palestinians over the past 24 hours. According to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees' Affairs, 9,345 people have been arrested in the West Bank since October 7, 2023.

In parallel, Israelis continue building settlement compounds on occupied Palestinian land, while forcing local residents out of their homes on the pretext that there are no permits issued by the occupying power. It looks monstrous and cynical when Palestinians are forced to demolish their homes themselves so that they do not have to pay expensive fees to Israeli builders.

The scale of violence by radical Israeli settlers, as well as their complete impunity, is staggering. In response to the murder of a 14-year-old Israeli boy from Malachei Hashalom (even though the alleged perpetrator was promptly apprehended) bands of furious settlers burned down 37 villages, killed four people and injured 91 other Palestinians. Worst of all, this lawlessness took place in full view of law enforcement officers.

All of this illustrates the vicious cycle of violence in the oPt, which inevitably leads to further radicalization on both sides. The only way out is to eradicate the culture of impunity and end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Although all UNSC members spoke about the inadmissibility of the operation in Rafah, it is in full swing. Resolution 2735 that envisages some kind of a deal that is supposed to lead up to a ceasefire (at least that is what the US claimed as the author of that document) is not working. Instead of a recipe for saving Gaza, the Security Council received a “pig in a poke”, which, as we had warned, turned out to be nothing. In fact, things are even worse, because now we have a Security Council resolution that, in which an outright lie has been inserted. The resolution says directly that Israel has agreed to the peace proposal of the international mediators. But West Jerusalem has yet to confirm this. At the same time, Israel stays determined to completely destroy Hamas. As a result, none of the stages prescribed in resolution 2735 have been implemented. The Council was essentially dragged into a shady scheme and forced to give its blessing to a plan that had no chance to be implemented. We call on the members of the Security Council from now on to take more responsible attitude to the decisions they support and to think about their essence.

The darkest assumptions about the civilian implecations of the assault on Rafah have come true. In an attempt to get at Hamas commanders, the Israelis struck indiscriminately at refugee camps, resulting in huge civilian casualties. Everyone remembers the devastating Israeli Air Force airstrike on the Tal al-Sultan area of Rafah on May 26, when 45 Palestinians were killed at once. Only two days earlier, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had issued its third decision on provisional measures demanding that the Israelis stop the military operation in Rafah. This was yet another clear confirmation of a flagrant violation by Israel, as an occupying power, of UNSC and UNGA resolutions, ICJ orders and international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions.

Added to this is the unbearable living conditions of Palestinians evacuated from Rafah, who lack basic housing, sanitation, access to medicine and drinking water. According to UNRWA, 69 % of school buildings that gave shelter to the displaced persons in Gaza have been and are being bombed daily.

We demand that Israel abandon the Rafah operation. We also call for an immediate unconditional ceasefire, the release of hostages and Palestinian detainees.

Amidst intense fighting, it is utterly impossible to ensure safe and sustainable access to those in need. The special humanitarian mechanism for Gaza, launched by UN Senior Coordinator Sigrid Kaag, cannot remedy the situation. The main aid delivery channel through the Rafah crossing point is closed, as well as the Kerem Shalom crossing point. The US-built pontoon pier (where traffic was suspended due to weather-caused damage) has not lived up to expectations either.


We should already be thinking about how to prevent a recurrence of the current escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is necessary to launch an equitable negotiation process between Palestinians and Israelis on a set of final status issues that would result in the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, coexisting in peace and security with Israel in accordance with approved international legal decisions.

We are convinced that Palestine's membership at the United Nations would only contribute to that. In this context, we would like to welcome the decisions of a number of Caribbean and European states to recognize the State of Palestine, thereby confirming their willingness to correct the historical injustice, which happened when one state was granted UN membership in 1948, while the other has been deprived of this legal right for three quarters of a century.

Thank you.

Video of the statement