The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 8 December 2023.
Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on Gaza.
Colleagues, these are dark days. The horror of the 7 October attacks hangs over us – including the shocking reports of sexual violence by Hamas against Israeli women and girls. And the terrible and heart-wrenching suffering of innocent Palestinians, including many women and young children, is a humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
The Secretary-General, who has our strong support, set out clearly the trajectory towards humanitarian catastrophe facing Palestinians in Gaza. We need to respond, and to respond with urgency. The sheer scale of civilians killed is shocking and the fact that 80% of the population has been displaced in Gaza cannot continue.
The UK continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas terrorism as it seeks the return of over 100 hostages who are still held in Gaza. But we are absolutely clear that Israel must be targeted and precise in achieving that goal. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of the UK have delivered this message, and will continue to do so. Civilians must be protected.
In parallel, we need a marked increase in the provision of sustainable and unhindered delivery of life-saving aid and essential services to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from taking place. This includes increasing the types of aid allowed. The sanitation and shelter picture, together with the lack of medical provision, in Gaza is dire and there is a desperate need for sanitation and shelter kits, and vital medicines.
It is welcome that Kerem Shalom will now be open for the screening of aid deliveries. We urge Israel to go further and to fully open Kerem Shalom to allow goods to cross, so that the huge volumes of aid that are needed can reach the people of Gaza. This should include at minimum the 200,000 litres of fuel per day for which the UN has called.
It is imperative that we work to agree further urgently needed humanitarian pauses, building on the pivotal work of Egypt, Qatar, and the United States. President, as we work to halt the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, we need to also work to avoid escalation in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel’s announcement approving further settlements in the Lower Aqueduct area of East Jerusalem is alarming and serves only to raise the tensions in the West Bank when international effort is focusing on avoiding further conflict.
Let me be clear: settlements are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability and delivery of a two-state solution. This decision must be reversed with immediate effect. President, let us work together to deliver peace, dignity, and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.