Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question


We thank Secretary-General Guterres for frank assessments of the disastrous situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone. We take note of his absolutely appropriate decision to invoke Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations to draw the attention of the Security Council to this issue.

Together with our colleagues from the People's Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates and being guided by the same considerations as the Secretary-General, we have asked the Ecuadorian Presidency of the Council to convene an urgent meeting in connection with the resumption of hostilities both in the Gaza Strip and other occupied Palestinian territories and in the areas bordering on Lebanon and Syria. We consider it extremely important to note that both the UN Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, and the overwhelming number of UN member states are united in their desire to take decisive measures to put an end to deaths and suffering of civilians in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone.


It is no exaggeration to say that this is a moment of truth. For almost two months, attempts have been made to persuade everyone that the most important, most urgent, most pressing thing the Council should do was to call for humanitarian pauses. We have been told that this, unlike a ceasefire, is supposedly an "attainable" and realistic goal. To all questions how this call was going to be implemented, we were told that humanitarian agencies on the ground would figure it out.

It is time we took stock. There was indeed a humanitarian pause. However, it had nothing to do with Security Council resolution 2712. This pause and the release of several dozen hostages and Palestinian prisoners were the result of agreements that regional mediators made with Hamas and Israel, the observance of which, of course, was not controlled by anyone. This humanitarian pause also had no political significance - the parties took a break, achieved their tactical goals, and then Israel, with the active support of the United States, moved on to a new, even deadlier phase of its ground operation in Gaza.

Let me cite some passages from yesterday’s letter of the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council. “Civilians throughout Gaza face grave danger… The health care system in Gaza is collapsing. Hospitals have turned into battlegrounds… There is no effective protection of civilians…Nowhere is safe in Gaza. Amid constant bombardments by the Israeli Defense Forces … I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible”. Colleagues, this the real fruit of resolution 2712, of all the lengthy discussions in the Council, which, unfortunately, were like milling the wind. At this meeting today, Antonio Guterres summed up the sad results that we have – UN humanitarian agencies are simply unable to help the people of Gaza under the current circumstances.

We are extremely disappointed that the Security Council, with its uniquely powerful toolkit under Article 7 of the UN Charter, has failed to adopt any clear binding decision to demand (rather than call on) the parties to stop violence. Under pressure from the US who threatened to block any other "product", the absolute imperative for a ceasefire was replaced with an unaddressed call for an unsecured pause, which, in fact, fit into the Israeli logic of continuing the military operation in Gaza. It was a huge step back from the UNGA resolution that the overwhelming majority of UN member states had adopted on October 27.

Today, the Council has a good opportunity to upend this abnormal situation and do what the international community expects. That requires adopting a draft resolution prepared by the United Arab Emirates. We trust that all our colleagues will find the strength and courage to do so.


Two months of conflict in Gaza have brought terrible suffering to the civilian population. During this time, more than 7,000 Palestinian children have been killed. The numerous destructions of hospitals and schools, refugee camps and UN facilities with humanitarian personnel have become public. The scale of this destruction is itself evidence of the indiscriminate use of force. Moreover, there are signs suggesting deliberate destruction of facilities protected by international humanitarian law.

War crimes are on the rise. In recent days, shocking information has circulated about Israel's plans to flood underground facilities in the Gaza Strip with seawater. According to open sources, the IDF has already lined up a system of pipes and pumps to inject seawater, and is currently discussing with the US the practical possibility of such flooding: whether there is going to be enough water, whether the layout of the tunnels will allow it, and so on.

If done, this will be a war crime. Such flooding could be considered analogous to "do not spare them" order, but it is not only about that. And not only about civilians who may be in those tunnels. Of course there most likely will be civilians, for where else would they go from the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza in general, as well as the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and UN facilities? As we heard from the UN Secretary-General today, nowhere is safe in the small but highly populated Gaza. The southern part of the Strip, which had previously been subjected to regular strikes, has now become an active war zone.

The biased Western media, while lauding this "ingenious tactical decision" by the Israeli army, do not even try to question the consequences of pumping thousands of cubic meters of seawater, i.e. salt water, into the ground. It is clearly a plan to undermine the already fragile agricultural capacities of the Strip, since the seawater will inevitably contaminate Gaza's groundwater.


Since the beginning of the escalation, Israel has prevented the normal supply of drinking water into Gaza. Most part of the water piping infrastructure has been cut off. Supply continues only to some areas of the southern part of the Strip. All humanitarian agencies say with one voice that this is insufficient to meet even the basic needs of the thousands of civilians besieged in Gaza. If groundwater is also contaminated against the background of artificially created problems with tap drinking water, the situation will become truly catastrophic. One has to be mindful that in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law (Articles 23 and 59 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949), the occupying power has special obligations to provide the civilian population with basic necessities.

We would like to emphasize that the consequences of the contamination of groundwater - the only source of fresh water for the people of Gaza - will not last for years, but for centuries! Together with the constant indiscriminate bombardment and targeted attacks on civilians aimed at instigating terror and panic among the population, a systematic strategy to forcibly displace Palestinians is emerging. Its cannibalistic logic is simple – to make life in Gaza unbearable, even impossible, leaving the civilian population with only one choice – leave their homeland or be killed.

This inhumane strategy consists entirely of war crimes. Nearly every provision of articles 51 and 52 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions is violated in a flagrant manner. In particular, they prohibit attacks against civilian population and facilities, "acts of violence or threats of violence with the principal purpose of terrorizing the civilian population", as well as indiscriminate attacks.

Thus, the UN Security Council is offered to humbly watch war crimes being committed, including with the use of weapons that Western countries (primarily the United States and Great Britain) have and continue to supply and give full political support to.


Let me underscore that references by Israel and its allies to the actions of Hamas on 7 October (which we certainly condemn) do not and, in principle, cannot justify the massive and systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity that are being committed in the Gaza Strip. Non-compliance with humanitarian law by one party to the conflict in no way exempts the other party from complying with the obligations it imposes. Moreover, article 51 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions expressly prohibits "attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals".

Colleagues, we should hardly expect the Western countries or the corrupt institutions under their control, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), to give a proper assessment to what is happening. The ICC will never go against its masters and their allies, as it is designed to serve their political interests. After all, neither the US, nor the UK, nor other Western countries have been held accountable for their war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. We all remember how the British ICC prosecutor Karim Khan shamefully de-prioritized, and in fact simply stopped investigations into Western military crimes in these countries. We have no doubt that he will behave in the same way with respect to Israel and its patrons.


We certainly share the view that we all need not to lose sight of the prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of a two-state formula, which we believe has no alternatives. We are ready to work on that, but the priority now is to stop the hostilities and save Palestinian civilians from annihilation.

In conclusion, I would like to address our Arab brothers and sisters in their language:

اصدقاؤنا العرب الأعِزّاء

تدعو روسيا الى وقف حلقة العنف اِثر التصعيد الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني الذي نشهَده منذ 7 أكتوبر. كما نَضُم صوتنا الى العديد من النِداءات لوقف اطلاق النار المُستدام والعودة الى حل الأسباب الجُذرية لهذا النِزاعواِبعاد الكارثة الإنسانية عن قطاع غزّة. وتَستنكِر روسيا بالقطْع أي عمل قد يُؤَدّي الى سُقوط ضحايا من المَدَنيين بِمَن فيهم النِساء والاطفال. كما لا نقبَل اية مُخططات للتهجير القَصري لسكّان غزّة الى الجنوب وهو عِبارة عن النَكْبة الجديدة بالنسبة للشعب الفلسطيني.

وتَدعُم بلدي كل المبادرات البَنًّاء لمجلس الامن الرامية الى تطبيع الوضع وفتح الطريق امام عملية التسوية الجِدٍّية بين الفلسطينيين والإسرائيليين وذلك على خَلْفية محاولات اَحد أعضاء المجلس لإبطاء او اِفشال هذه الجهود المشتركة. 

وفي وَجْه هذه المخُطَّطَات المَشْكوك فيها كانت روسيا ولاتزال تَقِف الى جانب الطُمُوحات المَشروعة للشعب الفلسطيني لإقامة دولتَهُ المُسْتَقِلًّة في حدود عام 1967 وعاصمتُها القُدس الشَّرقية والتي قد تَتَعَايَش في السلام والامن مع جَارَتِها إسرائيل. وتَسْتعِد روسيا لمُضَاعفة جهودها من اجل تحقيق هذا الهدف المَنْشود اعتماداً على المَرْجَعِية الدولية المَعْروفة بما فيها قرارات مجلس الامن ذات الصِلة والمُبادرة العربية للسلام عام 2003 وذلك في التنسيق مع شُرَكائنا الفاعلين.

وفي هذا السياق تدعم روسيا مشروع قرار مجلس الامن الذي اقترحته دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة وندعو كل زملائنا في المجلس الى التصويت لصالحه بعد اختتام الجلسة الحالية.



(Dear Arab friends,

Russia calls for an end to the cycle of violence following the Israeli-Palestinian escalation that we have seen since October 7. We add our voice to the numerous calls for a sustainable ceasefire and a return to addressing the root causes of the current crisis, which would make it possible to save the Gaza Strip from a humanitarian catastrophe. Russia strongly condemns any actions that could lead to the deaths of peaceful people, including women and children. We do not accept plans aimed at forcibly transferring Gazans to the south of the Strip, seeing this as a repetition of the "Catastrophe" (Nakba) for the Palestinian people.

Russia supports all constructive initiatives of the Security Council aimed at normalizing the situation and creating conditions for a comprehensive settlement process between Israelis and Palestinians. Against that background, one member of the Council is attempting to slow down and derail those joint efforts.

Contrary to those dubious plots, Russia has consistently supported and will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent State within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, coexisting in peace and security with its Israeli neighbor. Russia, in coordination with all partners involved, is ready to step up efforts to move towards this cherished goal on the basis of the well-known international legal framework, including the relevant Security Council resolutions and the 2003 Arab Peace Initiative.

In this regard, Russia supports the draft Security Council resolution proposed by the UAE and calls on all colleagues in the Council to vote in favor.

Thank you.)

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