Open debate on the situation in the Middle East

Statement by H.E. Ms Tanja Fajon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia at the UN Security Council open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Mr President,

I would like to start by thanking the Secretary General for his briefing and to you, Mr Minister, for organizing this high-level debate.

My message today is clear and it is only one: we need an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and in the region. So let me try to explain our reasoning behind the call for a ceasefire.

Only a ceasefire respected by all parties to the conflict will bring about the protection of civilians. Over 100 days of the conflict have led to too many civilian casualties on all sides – one in every one hundred Palestinians in Gaza has been killed. Enough is enough.

The vast majority of those killed in Gaza are women and children. They are starving in overcrowded and unsafe shelters, with a collapsed health system.

Only a ceasefire will enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance at the scale required. The humanitarian community has an impossible mission while facing a multitude of challenges. If we want humanity to prevail, we must lay the foundations for meaningful humanitarian action – and it is our collective responsibility.

Only a ceasefire will provide for creating the conditions for the safe return of displaced people. Let me be clear that we reject and condemn statements by Israeli officials proposing the mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza. However, we are also deeply concerned about the conditions internally displaced Palestinians in Gaza are living in. People are forced to flee again and again, being pushed to safe zones which are later bombed. We need conditions for safe returns on all sides: in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and Lebanon.

Only a ceasefire and a renewed vision of a two-state solution will prevent the proliferation of extremism and extremist ideologies. Slovenia condemns all forms of terror. Slovenia condemns the terrorist attacks of Hamas on 7 October, their continuing attacks on Israel and we repeat our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and for granting the ICRC access to them. A ceasefire has to bring them home.

Only a ceasefire will bring about the conditions for peace. The current hostilities and decades long tensions are providing neither peace nor security for anyone in the region. There is no military solution to the conflict; the only way to peace is a two state solution. I therefore repeat my call to start preparing an international peace conference to address all the puzzle pieces of a two-state solution in a comprehensive manner. We have to be serious about that. We ask the Security Council to push forward the discussions on the day after. Gaza and West bank belong to Palestinians.

A ceasefire will enable accountability. We cannot turn a blind eye to all the violations which have taken place in recent months. From the terrorist attack on 7th October and accounts of sexual violence by Hamas, to all violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. A strong international legal system is a guarantee of international peace and security.

Only a ceasefire can help to calm the region. During my last speech at this Council, I spoke of potential spillover. I am afraid this conflict has already generated or served as a pretext to generate further escalation in the West Bank, along the Blue Line and in the Red Sea. We condemn Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, which must immediately cease. Freedom of navigation and maritime security are critically important for the movement of essential goods, including food, fuel and critical humanitarian assistance intended to reach populations across the world. Tensions in the region are mounting, and we will soon reach a point of no return.

A ceasefire will enable reconstruction of Gaza under the leadership of a revitalized Palestinian authority with the strong support of the UN and the international community.

With a ceasefire I mean a process starting with the cessation of hostilities respected by all parties to the conflict and incorporating all of the above –  leading to an independent Palestinian state, a safe and secure Israel, a peaceful region and the people of all countries in the region living free of fear and terror.

Mr President – 26.000 victims, Palestinian and Israeli alike, are not statistics; each of them had a life, family, dreams, hopes and plans. The best way for us to show respect to those who have lost their lives in this conflict, is to pave the way for peace.

It is time for a ceasefire. Thank you.

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