Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNGA meeting regarding the use of veto in the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question



The General Assembly is convening this meeting because the United States used veto again in the Security Council to block a demand to cease violence in Gaza.

It has been more than 3 weeks since that moment, so I suggest a recap to restore the timeline of the Security Council on 22 December last year.

A few days prior to that the delegation of UAE on behalf of Arab states submitted a rather strong draft resolution aimed at enhancing humanitarian aid to Gaza which contained, among other things, a critical political element – a clear and unambiguous call to terminate hostilities in the enclave.

Of course, Washington took no liking to a document of such kind and so the United States embarked on a very unscrupulous venture in order to eviscerate the draft resolution and make it possible for its main ally in the Middle Ease to retain a free hand in Gaza. For that purpose, the ugliest tools were employed (such as pressure and blackmail), which our American colleagues cunningly call “effective multilateral diplomacy”. This “diplomacy” appeared to us in its full glory during the talks on the text, and may I say it frankly, that was a nasty thing to see.  

After a few days of effective “arms twisting” the United States managed to distort completely the initial message of the draft. Instead of calling for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, the text received language that proposed the exact opposite – “to create conditions for a ceasefire”. For Israel, that actually meant a “license to kill” peaceful Palestinians in Gaza on the pretext that cleansing Gaza mean creating such conditions.

Guided by the unconditional moral imperative of saving the lives of civilians in Gaza, we could not allow the Security Council to subscribe to a US-made document that would bless the continued extermination of Gazans. Therefore, Russia submitted an amendment that restored language from the original UAE-authored draft on the need for a cessation of hostilities, which was supported by the Arab group. The received support from 10 UNSC members. The United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland and Albania abstained, which is also very indicative in terms of their declared commitment to international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. Only one delegation, the United States, voted against. In doing so, Washington actually exposed itself, showing that the real goal of all its behind-the-scenes intrigues was not to work out a compromise text, as the American delegation had hypocritically stated earlier, but to push through the Security Council a decision giving a free hand to the Israeli leadership to take any steps (including the most brutal ones), to proceed with the cleansing of Gaza.

At the end of the day, the UNSC discussion of Gaza in 2023 ended on a sad if not tragic note. But it is not that the Council is unable to implement its mandate to maintain peace and security because of its institutional peculiarities. Last December, we were closer than ever to a consensus on demanding a ceasefire from the parties in order to ensure a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need in the region's oldest hotbed. There is only one real reason why the Council failed to do so. The reason is the destructive policy of the US, which has utilized its entire toolkit of political and diplomatic levers not for the sake of peace but to purposefully undermine multilateral efforts under the auspices of the UN for own egoistic geopolitical interests.

The sad outcome of this is that during the three months of escalation in Gaza, the Council was only able to adopt the "toothless" Security Council resolution 2712 (of November 15) and the extremely dubious resolution 2720 mentioned above. It is regrettable that Antonio Guterres' appeal to the Security Council under Article 99 of the UN Charter has also remained unheeded.

Russia abstained on both resolutions and did not vote against them solely because of the requests of the Palestinian and Arab representatives. But I would like to emphasize once again that we categorically disagree with the language of the current OP2 of resolution 2720 and proceed from the premise that responsibility for all possible consequences will fall on those states that gave their consent to its wording, which was pushed through by the United States.

The dire humanitarian situation in Gaza offers no glimpse of light. More than 22 thousand Gazans have died, approximately 53 thousand were injured and 10 thousand went missing or remain under rubble. Humanitarian "achievements" are reduced to the fact that, according to the WFP, more than half a million people in the Strip are facing a famine, and children who have fled to the south of Gaza receive only 10% of their daily ration of water. One of the six Israeli checkpoints, Kerem Shalom, was not opened until 71 days after the Israeli operation began. The Secretary-General and the heads of the UN specialized humanitarian agencies have repeatedly stated that it is impossible to deliver aid to Gaza under the massive strikes and bombardments; the goods that do enter are but a drop in the ocean of human suffering and hardships; and the civilian infrastructure including medical facilities has been almost completely destroyed.

We assume that the Security Council's clear demand for a full-fledged ceasefire remains imperative. Without it, as the experience of Security Council resolution 2712 has already shown, the implementation of the Council's decisions on Gaza is simply impossible. On December 8, 2023, during his address to the UNSC, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made this very clear. A similar conclusion follows from his circulated letter to the Council with options for monitoring UNSC resolution 2712. We believe that no matter how much the US resists in fencing off its main ally in the Middle East, the Council will return to this issue and demand a cessation of hostilities clearly and unequivocally. Without that, any humanitarian efforts will be paralyzed.



After the attack of October 7, 2023, which we condemned categorically, the spiral of violence that the world sees daily has taken on truly catastrophic proportions. It is clear that violence will keep recurring in the Middle East unless the injustice that has underpinned this conflict for years is addressed and the Palestinian people implement their right envisaged by UNSC and UNGA resolutions to establish an independent state within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Only such a balanced approach based on international law can lead to a sustainable peace.

In the current circumstances, our common goal is to assist the parties in establishing a negotiation framework, which should be used to resolve all contentious issues. We need a collective diplomatic mechanism aimed at creating conditions for the implementation of the decisions of the international community. One of the key and urgent tasks is to restore Palestinian unity.

For our part, in spring 2023 (even before the escalation in Gaza in October) we proposed ministerial consultations to consolidate the positions of regional stakeholders and help restore unity among the Palestinian people and organizations.

That initiative remains on the table. Otherwise, amid the stalemate of the Palestinian question, the world will have no choice but to watch the Gaza Strip, whose people have been deprived of any hope for a peaceful sky throughout their history, being wiped off the map.

Thank you.

Video of the statement