Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Our efforts have focussed on the protection of civilians, humanitarian access, and the release of hostages: UK statement at the UN Security Council [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 30 October 2023.

Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Gaza.

Thank you, President.

I’d like to thank Commissioner-General Lazzarini, Executive Director Russell and Director Doughten for your stark and clear briefings.

Let me start by recognising the courage, commitment and sacrifice of UN employees and humanitarian workers in Gaza, and in particular the 103 aid workers – including the 64 UNRWA staff – who have been killed in Gaza in the last 22 days.

We also offer our sincere condolences to all Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered or lost loved ones.

Since Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel on 7 October, the United Kingdom has underscored Israel’s right to self-defence against terrorism. We continue to be clear that this must be done in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Our efforts, with our international partners, have focussed on the protection of civilians, securing and scaling up humanitarian access, and the release of hostages. Sadly, despite these efforts the situation in Gaza deteriorates daily. Hamas bears sole responsibility for starting this conflict.

President, I would like to highlight three priorities.

First, we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, including the principles of proportionality, distinction and necessity. This requires all parties to take every possible step to avoid the harming of civilians and the immediate and unconditional release of hostages.

Second, we must urgently co-operate to scale up aid into Gaza, and to ensure sufficient access points are open. For this to happen successfully there needs to be a safer environment, which necessitates humanitarian pauses. We support UN-led efforts in this regard.

Since the latest escalation in Gaza, the UK has committed over $36 million in additional aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. An RAF flight arrived in Egypt on 25 October carrying 21 tonnes of UK aid for Gaza. But the access environment needs to improve immediately so that these and other lifesaving resources can reach the people who desperately need them.

Third, we cannot allow this conflict to spread. We call on all countries in the region to help avoid escalation and warn non-state actors not to exploit the current situation.

President, the Palestinian Authority has a key role as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. We call on Israel and other states to support the PA. We call on Israeli authorities to tackle the rising number of settler attacks and killings in the occupied West Bank, recalling that it is their responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians there.

The UK retains the long-term goal of a Two State Solution with Israel and Palestine coexisting peacefully.

To reach that goal, we have a responsibility to ensure a plan for Gaza that offers the population hope, security, stability, prosperity, and effective governance so that their political wishes can be fulfilled. In this regard, some fundamental principles apply.

There should be no mass displacement of Gazans to neighbouring countries. The Palestinian Authority should play a central role. And nothing should be done that cuts across progress towards a Two State Solution, with Gaza as an integral part of a Palestinian state.

Thank you, President.