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

Point or order:


Yesterday, when we were discussing the UNSC meeting that Russia had requested with regard to the 25th anniversary of NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia, the delegation of France set a procedural precedent, insisting that the Security Council should take decisions regarding meetings in the Chamber only. At France's initiative, a procedural vote was held on the agenda item, even though the Japanese Presidency had previously scheduled the meeting and it was on the Council's provisional program of work. However, when already in the Security Council Chamber, the Presidency was unable to confirm its decision.

Beside that, France (and the Western permanent members on the Council) in fact refused to convene a meeting of the Security Council, which had already been scheduled. Please note that the proposed agenda ("Threats to international peace and security") was not alien to the Council. However it was not the agenda item, but the very subject of the meeting that they did not like. Nevertheless, for some reason the Japanese Presidency insisted on holding a procedural vote on the agenda item. We will get back to this issue and consider it in detail.

For the time being, in view of the precedent set by France and in order to avoid misunderstandings, we assume that the decision on whether to convene UNSC meetings will be taken immediately at the beginning of each of them. It would be a logical question whether the members of the Security Council support the convening of a meeting or whether they do not. We would rather that the Presidency put it this way when formulating the question for a procedural vote. We need to make sure that no one is in opposition, as was the case with France yesterday.

But after yesterday's negative precedent, when the Presidency refused to formulate the question for the procedural vote in this way, we no longer count on that. Then we ask that, at least, the agenda for today's meeting be approved by a procedural vote. This will enable us to take a decision according to the letter of the procedure, as our French colleagues want us to do. It is important to avoid double standards and differences of opinion. If there were any yesterday regarding the meeting requested by Russia, we must make sure that there are none today. This will be the case until we agree on a normal modus operandi.

Thank you.

Video of the statement


Main statement:


Let me start by reciting some quotes.

When commenting on adoption of resolution 2728, the Permanent Representative of the United States said yesterday in this Chamber, “we fully support some of the critical objectives in this nonbinding resolution”.

Then representative of the National Security Council, J.Kirby, said, “It’s a non-binding resolution, so there’s no impact at all on Israel’s ability to continue to go after Hamas”.

After the Security Council adopted resolution 2728, Israel’s Foreign Minister I.Katz said that Israel is not going to stop its military operation and intends to fight unless HAMAs is completely eradicated and all hostages and detainees who remain in the enclave are released.  

I should like to ask the US delegation if the words by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and other officials mean that the United States of America does not consider the resolutions of the UN Security Council to be binding?

I will give another quote, this time from Article 25 of the UN Charter: "The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter”.

Do yesterday's statements by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield mean that the US no longer considers itself bound by the UN Charter? And, furthermore, does it encourage Israel to do so?

If that is the case, there is simply no point in our discussions in this room. One of the permanent members of the UN Security Council actually openly declares that it does not obey the Charter of our Organization, disavowing all the hard-won results of the Council's deliberations, including the historic resolution on a ceasefire in Gaza.

With the "blessing" of the United States, Israel now has full "carte blanche" despite the direct demand of the UN Security Council and is not going to stop until it razes Gaza to the ground.


We have followed closely the briefing by Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where the military operation and raids by the Israeli Armed Forces continue, despite the adoption yesterday of Security Council resolution 2728, which unequivocally "demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire".

I underscore that the resolution was supported by all members of the Council, with the exception of the United States that chose to abstain. It took Washington 173 days and nights since the beginning of the unprecedented bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, which has claimed more than 32,000 lives and injured further 75,000 Palestinians, to realize how flawed its position was and allow UNSC members to finally make the only correct decision.

Today’s statement by American representative was striking. He did not say a word on the actual agenda of today's meeting, namely, the illegal construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and spent all his energy justifying to Israel yesterday's decision not to block the resolution demanding a ceasefire. Frankly, that does not seem worthy of a great power. We were particularly surprised by the attempts to sling mud at Russia and China, thanks to whom the Council was able to adopt yesterday's resolution, rather than an inarticulate and harmful American text with a license for Israel to continue its operation in Gaza. And finally, let me remind my American colleagues once again that it was you who prevented the Council from condemning Hamas on October 18 by blocking a draft that contained such language. So you only got yourselves to blame.

In the past 24 hours, 84 people have been killed in Gaza as a result of ground fighting and IDF airstrikes. The fighting continues, including around the Shifa and Nasser medical compounds. Due to the intensity of the shelling, the Palestinian Red Crescent was forced to move all evacuable patients from Al-Amal Hospital. There is no adequate and unimpeded humanitarian access in the face of incessant bombardment. The enclave is exposed to risks of mass starvation (80% of Gazans have no sustainable access to nutrition) and infectious diseases. The already catastrophic situation may further deteriorate as Israel has announced the ground operation to spread to Rafah area, where more than 1.5 million people are crowded together. On the eve of today's meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu, speaking to the troops, once again reaffirmed his intention to invade Rafah. Mr. President, we support the work of UNRWA, and are alarmed by today’s reports that Israeli authorities have denied UNRWA access to northern Gaza.

Against the backdrop of Israel's deadly cleansing of the Gaza Strip, tensions persist in the West Bank, where equally violent clashes continue between the Israeli military and extremist settlers and Palestinian civilians. According to the UN, some 500 Palestinians, including more than 100 children, have been killed by the Israeli military and settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since October 7, 2023.

In addition to forceful actions, Israel continues arbitrary arrests of Palestinians - more than 7,500 people have been detained since October 7 - as well as unilateral steps to create irreversible "facts on the ground" and expand Israeli settlements, including the construction of settlement outposts west of Ramallah in violation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 2334. West Jerusalem authorities expropriated some 800 hectares of land in the Jordan Valley, the largest confiscation of Palestinian land since 1993. In addition, the Israelis approved the construction of more than 3,500 new housing units in the settlements Maale Adumim, Efrat, and Kedar. In parallel to this, forcible seizure of Palestinian property and the demolition of their homes continue.


With the upcoming religious holidays of Catholic Easter on March 31 and Eid al-Fitr on April 9, the issue of access to Jerusalem's Holy Sites is very pressing. It is outrageous that Israeli security forces have prevented thousands of Christians in the West Bank from attending Catholic Palm Sunday services in Jerusalem. We call on the authorities in Tel Aviv to reconsider their approach in this regard and to ensure unhindered access to places of worship in the Old City.

Another final status issue that the Israeli leadership seeks to remove from the agenda for good is return of refugees. UNRWA, a specialized agency established in 1949 to support Palestinians not only in the oPt but also in neighboring Arab countries, has come under targeted and comprehensive attack whereby its funding and political mandate were undermined.

In that regard, we have questions regarding the disproportionality of measures taken against UNRWA, which lead to the collective punishment of 30,000 agency staff and 6 million Palestinians, and also regarding the lack of concrete information on the allegations made by Israel about the involvement of UNRWA staff in the events of 7 October. At the same time, there are deeply disturbing reports about torture and ill-treatment of UNRWA staff at the interrogation in order to extract confessions.


The appalling trends I have described result from Israel's complete disregard for its obligations to implement the provisions of Security Council and UNGA resolutions and threaten not only to expand the scale of the human and humanitarian catastrophe in the oPt, but also to escalate violence across the entire Middle East.

We trust that UNSC Resolution 2728 will be fully implemented by all parties and UN members and will contribute to ending violence in Gaza, including preventing the Israeli operation in Rafah, increasing humanitarian assistance to civilians in the Gaza Strip and preventing their forcible deportation. We do hope that it will not remain just “words on paper” like its predecessors.

It is our duty as the Security Council to ensure strict compliance with resolution 2728 and implementation of its provisions on the ground.

Thank you.

Video of the statement