Civilians in Israel and Gaza are the first victims of the renewed outbreak of the conflict in the Middle East. Thousands of civilians in Israel and Gaza, including hundreds of children, have already lost their lives. Against this backdrop, the UN Security Council voted on 18 October 2023 on a resolution introduced by Brazil condemning Hamas attacks and calling on the parties to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Switzerland supported the resolution. Due to a US veto, the adoption of the resolution failed. The draft resolution introduced by Brazil aimed to achieve consensus in the Security Council and contained important elements from Switzerland's point of view. For this reason, Switzerland regrets that this important resolution was not adopted today.

On Monday evening, a resolution text submitted by Russia had failed due to a lack of majority. This text did not contain a clear reference to international humanitarian law – one of Switzerland's priorities in the Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote.

Switzerland continues to advocate for solutions in the Security Council so that the Council fulfils its responsibility to protect the civilian population in the Middle East. However, it also remains active outside the Security Council at multilateral and bilateral level to improve the humanitarian situation in the Middle East.

Emergency meeting: Explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza

Immediately after the vote on the resolution, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. According to the UN, hundreds of people were killed and many injured. Switzerland recalls that hospitals and civilians must always be protected under international humanitarian law. A thorough investigation must be carried out.

Switzerland advocates in the Security Council for improvement of the situation in the Middle East

In recent days, Switzerland has taken a position on the escalating situation in the Middle East in various closed sessions of the UN Security Council. Last Friday, it once again condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism and recognised Israel's legitimate desire for national defence and security. It called on both parties to respect international law and underlined the need for humanitarian and medical aid to be delivered quickly and unhindered. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated these two objectives: on the one hand, the condemnation of terrorist acts and the protection of the civilian population, and on the other, respect for international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights.

Switzerland remains convinced that a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means. This must be based on a two-state solution negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Situation in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory