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Statement on the situation in the Middle East

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Thank you very much Madam President,

I want to thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing. I also want to thank Mr Lockyear for his very powerful testimony today and I join others in expressing our support, admiration and condolences for loss of your staff.

The Security Council meets today as a threat of incomprehensible proportions is looming over Rafah. I cannot but feel this unimaginable catastrophe is looming also over the Security Council, which has not been able yet to rally behind a call for a ceasefire and for silencing the skies over Gaza and Israel.

What future is waiting for us, the international community if we continue to be indifferent to the tears of 17.000 unaccompanied minors having witnessed unimaginable horrors of death and destruction? What kind of a Council have we become if we remain untouched by the tearful briefing that we heard today by the Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières?

What is the future of the international community if the most fundamental principles of the international system and international humanitarian law decades in the making are crumbling in front of our very eyes?  

I want to reiterate our deep concern over the grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law that we continue to witness in Gaza. From indiscriminate bombings, forced displacement, targeting of protected buildings and personnel, including hospitals and medical and humanitarian staff – to preventing the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza, including water, food, fuel and medicine supplies.

Among violations we consider with the same gravity also taking civilian hostages, preventing ICRC to get in touch with them and preventing delivery of medicines they urgently need. 

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate once again our distress over the working conditions, safety and security of medical and humanitarian personnel and UN staff in Gaza. Stories of hospital sieges, and convoys, ambulance crews and shelters being attacked, are horrifying. We applaud the courage of humanitarian, medical and UN workers and organizations, and their dedication to saving lives.

Slovenia has assumed its share of responsibility to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Just today, the Government of Slovenia made additional contribution to UNRWA and is committed to providing further support in the future. Tomorrow, in cooperation with Jordan, Slovenia will provide a substantial amount of in-kind assistance to Gaza. 

Meanwhile the violations of international humanitarian laws are continuing unchallenged and they are weakening the power and sanctity of the rules of war, 75 years of which we are going to mark later this year. What consequences will these violations have for the safety of humanitarian and medical personnel in other and future conflicts?

Madam President,

It has been almost four weeks since the ICJ order on provisional measures. It is alarming that we have not seen a change in the way military operations are carried out. On the contrary. There is a continuing threat of an imminent Israeli ground invasion of Rafah where massive civilian casualties are imminent.

We are urging the Israeli government to restrain itself from carrying out such plans. We are condemning the statements and plans proposing mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, and strongly reject them. To be clear: any displacement of the Palestinian population from Gaza could constitute another grave breach of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Like we did two days ago and on every occasion in this Council, I would like to put on record our clear condemnation of the horrific Hamas attack on 7 October 2023 and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

We remain hopeful about the negotiation process led by Egypt, Qatar and the United States and we thank them for their role. We expect both parties to engage in negotiations in a meaningful way and conclude them now.  

We have been discussing regional spillover since the start of this conflict. The messages of many countries and citizens have been clearer and sharper recent weeks. We fear this conflict is spiraling out of control. We are observing gradually deteriorating conditions in the West Bank, along the Blue Line, in the Red Sea but also in Syria and wider.

Every conflict situation in the Middle East has its own root causes and its own spoilers. But nobody can deny that a ceasefire in Gaza would have a calming effect on the rest of the region.

Only political solutions can bring peace and security to the whole region and it is the responsibility of this Council to pave the way for them.

The pathway to peace and to a two-state solution can only be built on an inclusive political process with a vision for the future. Slovenia continues calling for an international peace conference to address a two-state solution in a comprehensive manner.

Thank you.

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