Thank you, Madam President, and thank you for convening this meeting. Like my colleagues, I would also like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr Martin Griffiths, not only for his presentation, but also for the work of his teams and himself.
In view of the devastating human toll of this conflict, the level of destruction in Gaza and the violence in the West Bank, I would like to reiterate the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights.
We have heard it from the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr Martin Griffiths, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The population there today is without the protection it needs and that it has a right to. They are under siege, subject to bombardments and fighting, repeated displacements, famine and epidemics. All this while the health sector - and we have just heard it - is in ruins, despite the courageous efforts of humanitarian actors.
This cannot continue. The establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire must allow rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to the civilian population in need, by all possible means and through all possible crossing points, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, in accordance with international humanitarian law.
I reiterate my country's full support for the International Court of Justice. The Court's provisional measures are binding on the parties. Switzerland expects Israel to comply with its order and in particular to take the necessary measures to prevent the commission of any act of genocide and any incitement to commit it. These measures also include effective measures, which need to be taken immediately, to enable the provision of the basic services and humanitarian aid urgently required to alleviate the difficult living conditions to which the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are subjected.
In the West Bank, settler attacks on Palestinians and the resulting forced displacement of entire communities are unacceptable. And this in an environment of almost complete impunity. As the occupying power, Israel must refrain from taking any measures that would introduce permanent changes in the Palestinian Territory.
We welcome the current visit to Israel and the West Bank by Special Representative Pramila Patten. The report that she plans to present on the sexual violence committed during and since the attacks of 7 October - which we have strongly condemned - will give us a more comprehensive view of the catastrophic situation. Switzerland calls for independent investigations into all allegations of violations of international law committed in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The alleged perpetrators must be brought to justice before the relevant authorities.
Finally, we are extremely concerned about the very serious allegations against twelve UNRWA employees suspected of involvement in the acts of terror on 7 October, despite the fact that UNRWA is the largest humanitarian actor in the Gaza Strip today, providing aid to two million people. My country has zero tolerance for any support for terrorism or any advocacy of hatred or incitement to violence. We have taken due note of the immediate measures taken by UNRWA against the employees and expect the internal investigation to shed full light on these serious allegations.
There is an urgent need to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to achieve a regional de-escalation as quickly as possible. The signs are increasingly worrying, particularly on both sides of the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. Beyond that, tensions are high in
Yemen, Syria, Iraq and the Red Sea. This Council must shoulder its responsibilities. As it has done to date, Switzerland is ready to work towards concerted action by the Council along these lines.
The elements I have mentioned - respect for international law, including the establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire, access for aid to Gaza, the release of hostages - are only the first steps towards a political resolution of this conflict.
Switzerland stands ready to support efforts to rebuild hope for peace through a solution involving two democratic states living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, with Gaza as an integral part of a future Palestinian state.