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 today’s briefers for their objective assessments of the dire situation in Gaza, especially the frank, straightforward and blood chilling testimony of Mr. Lockyear. What is there to add? He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.


Today's meeting is taking place against the United States casting another veto on a Security Council draft resolution that envisaged an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. There is and can be no justification for such actions by the US delegation. The unprecedented violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone has continued for almost 140 days. The colossal loss and destruction that we have heard about today speak for themselves - more than 29,000 people, including women and children, have been victims of indiscriminate bombing and forceful actions by the Israeli military. At least 69,000 have been injured. As we heard from the briefers, that includes severe injuries. 80 percent of the entire population of Gaza has been internally displaced. Most of them have taken refuge in the south of the enclave in the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, which are under a de facto siege and subjected to intense bombing by the Israeli Air Force. In fact, this is a deliberate policy of West Jerusalem to "squeeze" the Palestinians out of Gaza. This will inevitably lead to Gazans breaking the border with Egypt and the humanitarian disaster spreading across its territory.

Washington's "diplomatic efforts on the ground", to which our American colleagues refer to constantly, have so far come to nothing. It is clear that Washington simply has no real leverage over the Government of Israel. The authorities in West Jerusalem unequivocally declare that the "cleansing" of the enclave will continue for several more months, calling for the continuation of the military operation, the elimination of the presence of UNRWA in the enclave and the forced displacement of Palestinians from their places of permanent residence. That said, it is also clear that, despite the bravado, Israel is not achieving its stated goals. Its military operation, judging by the information in public domain, does not and will not help to free the hostages. Against this background, the US representative's statements that there can be no ceasefire without a release of hostages look doubly cynical. It is quite the opposite. A release of hostages cannot happen without a ceasefire.

In other words, we are dealing with an uncontrolled escalation, which thousands more Palestinians fall victims to. In fact, the Security Council has arrived at a consensus on the need to stop the violence. Only one delegation - the United States - stands in the way of multilateral efforts under the auspices of the United Nations. Protecting its closest Middle Eastern ally, the US tries to "sell" to the Security Council "alternative solutions" that benefit Israel alone, or, more precisely, the geopolitical interests of the United States in the Middle East.

All United Nations bodies and Secretary-General Guterres speak with one voice about an urgent need for a humanitarian ceasefire as a necessary condition for enabling humanitarian assistance on the required scale and a release of hostages. This demand was the cornerstone of the draft resolution prepared by the delegation of Algeria – the draft resolution that the United States of America cast a veto on.

Colleagues, when you hurdle Security Council’s decision-making and dismissively call on this body to not interfere with your diplomacy, you do yourselves an ill service. Instead of enabling this Council to use its toolkit and exert authority, you increasingly lose control over the situation, giving a green light to aggression against the Palestinian people, including a ground operation in Rafah.

The stalemate in the Security Council, created by the hard-headed stance of the US, has already caused violence to spread from Gaza to the entire Middle East. We see the consequences in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Sympathy for the Palestinians has naturally stirred up the Middle East. At the same time, Western countries, instead of finding an adequate political solution, are traditionally trying to "bomb away" the discontented. The use of force by the Anglo-Saxon coalition against sovereign Syria, Iraq, and Yemen poses a direct threat to international peace and security and undermines the world order based on the rule of international law and the central role of the UN.


There is not even the slightest prospect of ending the humanitarian disaster in Gaza caused by Israel's ongoing military operation in the enclave and beyond. In the absence of unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza, particularly to its northern areas, people there are exposed to hunger and infectious diseases.

In that catastrophic context, the decision by a number of Western donors to suspend funding to UNRWA because of suspected involvement of its staff in collaboration with Hamas was incomprehensible and outrageous. Those staff members were immediately dismissed before any investigation was conducted, based solely on Israel’s accusations. We call to revise the decision on suspension of UNRWA’s funding.

This punishment of millions of Palestinians in need of assistance is simply immoral and cannot be seen as anything other than blackmail and politicization of humanitarian issues by donors. It means even more suffering for Palestinians in Gaza, inter alia through the disruption of humanitarian assistance, educational and social services and health care for some 6 million Palestinians across the oPt, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In that connection, we condemn attempts to discredit UNRWA by placing political "labels" on its activities.

Russia reaffirms its standing position that this decades-long conflict cannot be resolved by force, but only through political and diplomatic means within the framework of the two-state formula. We consistently advocate a humanitarian ceasefire as a mandatory condition for ensuring unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need and the unconditional release of all hostages. This is an imperative that the UN Security Council should focus all its efforts on. We call to heed the voices of the Arab and Muslim world, and indeed the majority of the international community, who demand an end to the suffering of civilians in Gaza and the Middle East.

Thank you.

Video of the statement