I would like to thank you for facilitating this meeting, attended by many ministers and representatives of countries affected by the hostilities in the Middle East. Their participation testifies to the international community’s determination to find a solution to this crisis. Time is running out. As the Secretary General and Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland – whom I thank warmly for their presentations – have just said, the situation on the ground is serious.
By adopting Resolution 2712, the Council opened a breach in the bloody dynamic of this conflict. This resolution demands – and I quote – “that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians”. At the same time as it recognizes Israel’s right to ensure its defence and security, Switzerland recalls that respect for international humanitarian law is imperative. This Council has a duty to ensure that this law, and human rights, are respected by all parties to the conflict. This law protects all civilians, including the wounded and sick, humanitarian and medical personnel, and civilian infrastructure – including hospitals and UNRWA schools. Civilians have paid the heaviest price since the outbreak of hostilities. The lives of more than a thousand of them were snuffed out by Hamas during the acts of terror it perpetrated on 7 October in Israel, which Switzerland strongly condemned. A large number of hostages remain captive in Gaza. We welcome the releases that have taken place through the mediation of Qatar, Egypt and the United States, and thanks to the important role of neutral intermediary played by the ICRC. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages still held in Gaza.
Of the thousands of civilians killed in Gaza, more than a third are children. Switzerland calls for an extension of the humanitarian pause due to end tomorrow morning. The catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip demands it. We welcome the additional aid delivered over the past week, including fuel. But it is still far from enough. We must insist that humanitarian aid be delivered unhindered and without preconditions to civilian populations in need throughout the Gaza Strip. To this end, we call for every effort to be made to allow humanitarian access through all crossing points, including for commercial goods. Switzerland would like to thank the Secretary-General in advance for his proposals for the practical implementation of Resolution 2712. We are ready to engage constructively to finding a new consensus within this Council, while bearing in mind the need to pursue a political solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory – in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – the situation continues to deteriorate. In the West Bank, increased settler violence has led to the forced displacement of entire communities. Switzerland recalls Israel’s obligations under international law, including the obligation to protect the civilian population. In the context of operations by Israeli security forces, the use of force must in particular meet the criterion of proportionality and respect the rights of every individual to life and security of the person.
All violations of international law committed in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
Finally, it is essential to find a comprehensive political solution to the conflict. In this process, it is important to pay attention to the voices and contributions of Palestinian and Israeli women who want to build peace. This Council must take concrete steps towards a two-state solution, which is the only possible foundation for peace and stability in the region. We must help to rebuild this foundation for two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace, within secure and recognised borders.