Statement on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

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, Mr. President. I would also like to thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his briefing.

Mr. President,

Since the terrorist attack of Hamas on 7 October and the taking of hostages, which Slovenia continues to condemn, this Council has spent hours and days debating situation in Gaza.

At every meeting, members of this body called for ceasefire, for release of hostages and for distribution of humanitarian aid. We also called for full respect of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law.

We were united in arguing against military operation in Rafah.

We unanimously voiced our concerns in several press elements and statements.

Despite all differences and challenges, we have adopted four resolutions demanding a ceasefire, release of hostages and humanitarian aid.

Yet again, as we meet here today, we continue hearing the same accounts of situation in Gaza. Accounts of desperation, destruction, hunger and danger, with women and especially the children suffering the most. Not even a glimmer of hope. But more dead, more maimed, more traumatized Gazans.

And hostages still being kept in the tunnels of Hamas for nine months without any contact with their families or the ICRC. It seems that both Hamas and Israel continue to use civilians Gazans and hostages as instrument of pressure on the other side. But they are human beings exposed to horrific and unhuman treatment and suffering for long nine months. 

Extreme hunger is still present in Gaza. Slovenia is deeply troubled by obstacles to delivery of humanitarian aid and basic services. We underline the prime responsibility of Israel as the Occupying Power, in line with the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure food and medical supplies for the population, not merely allowing its passage. Only the cessation of hostilities in conjunction with sustained humanitarian access can reduce the risk of famine.

We are deeply concerned by persistent attacks on civilian and UN infrastructure, as well as on safe zones and humanitarian personnel. The attack near the ICRC Office on Saturday and a strike on UNRWA aid distribution facility on Sunday prove yet again that this Council’s arguments, concerns, demands and decisions remain ignored.

We were promised improvements in deconfliction mechanism. We were told safe zones will protect civilians. We were guaranteed investigations in incidents leading to massive casualties among civilians and humanitarian workers.

We have seen little to nothing on all these promises. I believe that my delegation is not the only one deeply disturbed and frustrated. We expect our last resolution to be implemented by both sides. But a follow up to its non-compliance will be needed soon. The Council must find a way to have it done and delivered.

Mr. President,

Slovenia is alarmed by the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the events that unfolded during the Flag March, the continuing movement restrictions in the West Bank, increase of the disproportionate use of force by Israeli security forces and the number of raids. The abuses, such as the one in Jenin on Saturday, are unacceptable and we note that the IDF itself marked it as violation of orders and standard operating procedures.

We remain concerned over advancement of settlement plans, demolitions and seizures of Palestinian owned structures in front of our own eyes. We are deeply concerned about impunity of persistent settler violence, affecting population in the West Bank and aid delivery to Gaza.

Colleagues, assaults on the United Nations, its representatives and entities are an attack on what its membership created through decades of multilateral cooperation. We are concerned by the increasing challenges UNRWA is facing. In this regard, we would like to invite Member States to join the shared commitments on UNRWA as an expression of support to the Agency and its mandate.

Slovenia expresses its support to the Government of the State of Palestine as it undertakes much needed and anticipated reforms to regain trust of the Palestinians. We regret that the deteriorating fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority is putting severe limitations to these endeavours. We are deeply concerned over the decision of Israel to seize the Palestinian Authority tax revenues.

On 4 June, Slovenia officially recognized the State of Palestine. Our recognition was a demonstration of our commitment to a two state solution. We see it as the only guarantee of lasting peace and security for the State of Israel and the region, for Israelis and Palestinians. The road there can lead only through negotiations between two equal and sovereign entities.

Mr. President,

In recent months, we have often spoken about the danger of regional escalation, including in the Red Sea and between Israel and Iran. With war drums beating louder along the Blue Line, our fear of miscalculation is growing by the day. We call on both parties to show restraint, commit to full implementation of the resolution 1701 and use UNIFIL liaison and coordination mechanisms. We welcome the efforts of France and the United States in offering their good offices. The Council should unanimously urge both parties to engage in these discussions and  de-escalate.

Thank you.

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