Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Hope and humanity must win out against the scourge of aggression and terrorism – Lord Ahmad statement at the UN General Assembly [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 27 October 2023.

Statement by Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon at the UN General Assembly tenth emergency special session on Gaza.

Thank you, Mr President.

May I begin by expressing our deep appreciation, our deep appreciation for this institution, the United Nations, and indeed all of our humanitarian partners for their incredible efforts, life-saving efforts, in what are the most challenging of circumstances.

And at this point, I also want to share our sincerest of condolences for the 30 UNRWA staff and the 16 medical staff who have lost their lives since the 7th of October. Equally, we record our sincere condolences to the victims and the families of the horrendous Hamas’ terrorist attacks on the 7th of October on Israel. And equally, we extend our condolences to the families of the innocent Palestinians who have been killed in this tragic conflict. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. To God we belong to God. We return. Your Excellencies, Mr. President, every life, every life that is lost is a tragedy, not just for a family in Israel or Gaza or the West Bank, but it is a loss for all of humanity, an Israeli life or a Palestinian life, irrespective of being Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Every life matters. Every life lost is a tragedy. Therefore, as we recall the tragic consequences of what we are witnessing, we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Yes, this means the unconditional release of the hostages and taking every possible step to avoid the harming of civilians and importantly, enabling unhindered humanitarian access.

We all know it has been said from this podium countless times during this debate that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing. On our part, the United Kingdom has provided an additional $37 million to help provide water, to help provide food and medicine and fuel in Gaza. And in this regard, may we put on record our thanks to the tireless work of the Secretary-General and the United Nations to ensure this lifesaving aid reaches those most in need. Whilst we welcome the important first step of 54 trucks passing through Rafah Border Crossing, we urge the scaling up of this assistance, including to enable fuel for civilian use to pass into Gaza, vital to keep hospitals and the humanitarian response running. And these humanitarian pauses are an important part of ensuring that this can happen. Turning to the attacks on Israel on the 7th of October, my Prime Minister has been clear: the United Kingdom stands with Israel in the face of Hamas’ terrorist attacks. We will always support an ally against a terrorist attack and its right to self-defence. But this must be, I assure you, Mr President, and we make that case, it must be within international humanitarian law. And if I may just put also from a personal perspective as a muslim: terrorism is evil.Every terror act is against humanity, and we should condemn it unequivocally.

So, Mr President, the draft resolution in front of us could have been clearer on this very point. It should also, in our view, unequivocally condemn these terror attacks, Hamas’ terror attacks that killed over 1400 people. And as we know at this very time, hold over 200 hostages. However, we have equally been clear that all possible precautions and steps are taken to minimise harm to civilians in this conflict and indeed, for any movement of civilians to be both voluntary and safe.

Mr President. We stand at a crucial juncture. Yet in this moment of darkness. Let us come together, this United Nations, that we come together and not lose sight of the promise that this United Nations holds true of a two-state solution: a secure, safe Israel side by side with a viable Palestinian state. And I assure you of this, that we, the United Kingdom, will continue to work closely with all partners in the region and beyond in these efforts, because peace must prevail, and to prevent the situation from spreading and causing wider insecurity and instability.

It was my Prime Minister who said hope and humanity must win against the scourge of aggression and terrorism. Love over hate. Light over darkness. Peace. Shalom. Salam.

Thank you.