Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN General Assembly Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 20, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Secretary-General Guterres, for your continued attention to this issue.

Over the past two weeks, the United States has approached this crisis in Israel and Gaza with a singular focus: bringing an end to the conflict as quickly as possible. We have not been silent. In fact, I don’t believe that there is any country working more urgently, and more fervently, toward peace. This is not a slight. And it is not silence. It’s a fact. I share to underscore our deep engagement and commitment to working with Israelis, Palestinians, and partners across the region to resolve this conflict.

The United States has had more than 60 diplomatic meetings at the highest levels, including at least five by President Biden. In his most recent call with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, President Biden communicated that we continue to stand by Israel’s right to defend itself, that we believe Israel is now in a position to begin winding down the conflict, and we expect a significant de-escalation to begin. In the hours and days ahead, we will continue to relentlessly push for peace. And we appreciate that so many nations have come together in this body to express the importance of resolving the conflict.

The Security Council has met four times in the last 10 days on this topic, including an open debate over the weekend to deliberate over the situation – particularly, the suffering of civilians caught in the conflict by no fault of their own. Again, we’ve not been silent. And we hope that people across the region have heard us loud and clear. The United States calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international law, including with respect to the protection of civilians, medical facilities, and facilities that serve as civilian shelters. We continue to condemn rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups. And we stand against extremism that has led to violence against both communities. And we commend the tireless dedication and life-saving work of the UN and other humanitarian workers on the ground.

We have to focus on making tangible progress toward peace. The United States will continue to champion every diplomatic effort that moves us closer to that goal. Israelis and Palestinians deserve safety and security, and should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy. This requires that all parties return to working in good faith toward the vision of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, and within secure and recognized borders. I would also encourage everyone participating today to take a hard look at how they are investing in the region. The needs in Gaza, in particular, are immense. We hope the international community will step up to meet the humanitarian needs on the ground. And this must be done in a manner that serves the needs of the Palestinians and not Hamas – which has time and time again failed the Palestinian people.

The human toll of this violence has been heartbreaking. The stories of the families, of children who have been killed, of those living with the trauma of surviving, are painful. We will never be silent in the face of such suffering. We are committed to working in concert with other members of this body to bring a rapid end to the current violence and, over the longer term, create the conditions for a lasting and sustainable peace.

Thank you very much.