Statement by H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, before the Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, 24 October 2023:
We are here today to stop the killing, stop the massacres being committed against the Palestinian people.
The ongoing massacres - being deliberately and systematically and savagely – perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population under its illegal colonial apartheid occupation must be stopped. The Security Council has a duty to stop them. The international community is obliged under international law to stop them. It is our collective human duty to stop them. Now. Continued failure at this Council is inexcusable.
Mr. President, we express appreciation to Brazil for convening this session of the Security Council and elevating its participation in light of the gravity of the situation we are facing. We thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his sobering briefing and for his tireless efforts and that of the UN agencies and humanitarian staff on the ground, particularly UNRWA, working round the clock under the most inhumane conditions to aid our people and uphold a minimal sense of humanity… We mourn with them the senseless killing of UNRWA staff and other humanitarian workers, including doctors, nurses, and paramedic who were directly targeted by this ongoing barbarous aggression. They are heroic champions of humanity at a time of abject depravity.
Over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day, every night. By the time representatives are done delivering their speeches today, 150 Palestinians will have been killed, including 60 children. In the last two weeks, over 5700 Palestinians have been killed, including over 2300 children and 1200 women. More than 15,000 have been injured, while at least 1,500 are missing under the rubble. I repeat – SEVENTY PERCENT of all casualties are women, children and the elderly. Compared to the population of Gaza, that is the equivalent of 145,000 British citizens or 700,000 US citizens. Almost all those killed are civilians. 1.4 million Palestinians have been displaced. Many of them have no homes to go back to because Israeli bombardment has levelled or destroyed up to 50% of homes in the Gaza Strip, more than 170,000 homes destroyed. Take a minute to think about these numbers and absorb the enormity of this man-made catastrophe.
Only international law and peace are worthy of your countries’ unconditional support. More injustice and more killing will not make Israel safer. No amount of weapons, no alliance, will bring to it security. Only peace will. Peace with Palestine and its people. The fate of the Palestinian people cannot continue to be dispossession, displacement, denial of rights and death. Our freedom is the condition of shared peace and security.
You have all spoken of the Palestinian people’s legitimate grievances, address them/ of their legitimate aspirations, help achieve them/ of their right to self-determination, support its realization.
For those actively engaged to avoid an even greater humanitarian catastrophe and regional spillover, it must be clear that this can only be achieved by putting an immediate end to the Israeli war launched against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Stop the bloodshed.
There is no amount of humanitarian aid that can address the situation if more death, destruction and devastation are imposed on our people in Gaza. There is no way to contain underlying tensions in our region if that reality does not change. There are so many fronts open for war and none for peace.
Some of my colleagues spoke to me about the pain and anger of bereaved families. Every family in Gaza is a bereaved family. No one is spared. No one is safe. Where is the solidarity with them? Where is the empathy towards them? Where is the outrage for their killing? If these expressions are genuine, they can not be accompanied by excuses for the killer, and reasons for him to continue the killing.
We should be on the same side, all of us who believe in justice and peace, in the rule of international law, in the value and sanctity of human life. We should stand shoulder to shoulder in these moments. But that is only possible if everyone recognizes the value of Palestinian life, the need to uphold Palestinian rights. This is only possible if you offer unconditional support to the rule of international law and the objective of peace, not to those breaching the former and destroying the latter. Sooner or later, you will have to admit that the interests of your countries and those of this Israeli government are not aligned but rather opposed. The sooner you recognize it, the more lives can be saved, the more chance we have to walk back from the abyss.
It may be hard to imagine in these circumstances a different reality. The effort and energy it would take, the difficult choices it implies, the political cost it carries, the changes to policies it entails. But as we said repeatedly, it is worth it. Because of the alternative. The one we are living in right now. The one the Palestinian people have been experiencing for decades. There is a reality where no Palestinians and no Israelis are killed, where all enjoy equal measures of freedom, peace and security. That reality is the one that deserves all your efforts and all your resources. Invest in peace, not war. Support justice not vengeance. Stand for freedom, not justify continued subjugation.
Billions of people from all faiths and all origins care about the fate of the Palestinian people. They measure against it all the statements and positions of your countries. They consider it the ultimate test for the values one proclaims, and the norms we all enacted. In Gaza, under the rubbles lies over 1000 Palestinians and all the values and all the norms. Under the bombs, two million Palestinians, and all the values and all the norms. Abandoning the Palestinian people is betraying those values and norms. You either rescue the international-law based order, or leave it to die there.
We thank all those who have taken an unequivocal position and offered support, starting with the countries of our region, who understand more than any other the implications of the continued inhumane and barbaric attacks against our people, but also countries across the globe, the peoples in your streets, the moral voices of this world. Listen to them.
You have families, and some of you evoked them when Israelis were killed. How you could not but think of your loved ones and what pain and suffering you would feel if they had endured a similar fate. I am therefore convinced you can not be numb to a reality where all the people you love, your parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins, and in-laws, are all in danger of imminent death, or worse, have all been killed in one strike, in one instant. That is happening repeatedly. Can you feel their pain? Can you imagine the day after for them? For that child who is the only survivor of his entire family? Can you then imagine how we feel when anyone claims this is for the better? Can you imagine your loved ones, besieged and bombed, deprived of the essential goods for their survival, their fate dependent on a decision to allow or prevent fuel, water and food from entering, with any delay meaning a death sentence for many?
If you say you are for international law, international humanitarian law, and for protection of civilians, then nothing can justify what Israel is doing. This is targeting of civilians, or at best inhumane, unlawful indiscriminate attacks. This is collective punishment. Once you remove the principles of humanity and distinction from the laws of war, nothing remains.
What Israel is doing is consistent with its belief that we are sub-humans, or human animals as they put it. But surely you don’t share that belief. You do not believe our lives are less worthy, less sacred, more expendable. So imagine what you would do if bombs were falling on Israel killing civilians by the thousands and then ask why is this any different. Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians over the years, and yet no one suggested that entitled us to start killing Israeli civilians. Neither under a right to defend ourselves, to protect our own, or to resist. Your message was always clear: Nothing can justify killing Israeli civilians. Well, nothing justifies killing Palestinian civilians. Nothing.